Avoiding Identity Crisis in a Hybrid Network World With Azure

    Instant, effortless scaling. Your business gets an opportunity, which creates the need for new IT resources. Instead of spending weeks configuring, ordering and waiting for new equipment, which then takes another few weeks to install and implement, you expand and extend your data center with the click of a mouse. “If only it were that easy,” you’re thinking. The fact is that Agile IT makes that agility available to clients easily with Azure. Not just easy to provision, but also easy to integrate, manage and start using immediately. And that means exploiting that opportunity as fully as possible and as quickly as possible!

    Hide the Hybrid

    The common thought is that there’s still a lot to do after adding Azure to your data center — that a hybrid network requires a whole new operating infrastructure to support it.

    That simply isn’t true.

    Almost all larger networks leverage the power of Active Directory to manage and secure resources. So does every Azure instance. With more and more companies moving into a hybrid coexistence between Windows Server 2012 R2 running on-premises on local private cloud servers along with Windows Server 2012 R2 running on Microsoft Azure cloud servers, Active Directory emerges more and more as the “lingua franca,” the common language that connects the two into a single cohesive, seamless environment.

    When you add Azure resources to your Windows Server 2012 R2-based network, you can manage the entire system as one cohesive, contiguous compute space using Active Directory. All of your users’ identities, attributes, rights and resources remain the same. You basically hide the hybrid in your hybrid network. Here’s how it works.

    What are Active Directory for Windows Server and Active Directory for Azure

    A quick search (yes, on Bing as well as Google) only turns up a specific definition for Active Directory from the year 2000:

    “Active Directory is a special-purpose database — Typical examples of data stored in the directory include printer queue data, user contact data, and network/computer configuration data. Active Directory has three partitions. These are also known as naming contexts: domain, schema, and configuration. The domain partition contains users, groups, contacts, computers, organizational units, and many other object types. The configuration partition includes configuration data for services, partitions, and sites.”

    So, Active Directory for Windows Server 2012 R2 enables the management of every identity, every resource, and every object in your network all in one easy-to-manage place. It also facilitates access control and security on a network-wide basis.

    The Microsoft Azure website offers up this much more recent post from November 2, 2014 defining Azure Active Directory:

    “Azure Active Directory is a service that provides identity and access management capabilities in the cloud. In much the same way that Active Directory is a service made available to customers through the Windows Server operating system for on-premises identity management, Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is a service that is made available through Azure for cloud-based identity management. Learn more

    Because it is your organization’s cloud directory, you decide who your users are, what information to keep in the cloud, who can use the information or manage it, and what applications or services are allowed to access that information.

    _When you use Azure AD, it is Microsoft’s responsibility to keep Active Directory running in the cloud with high scale, high availability, and integrated disaster recovery, while fully respecting your requirements for the privacy and security of your organization’s information.”

    _ Active Directory for Azure performs the same functions for Azure services that Active Directory for Windows Server 2012 R2 performs for your on-premises servers.

    Connecting Active Directory for Windows Server and Active Directory for Azure

    The best news when you extend your data center by adding Azure resources is that you can now connect Active Directory for Windows Server and Active Directory for Azure as one contiguous environment, eliminating the need for two IDs, two sets of passwords, two databases and two things to manage. It all becomes one! According to Microsoft:

    “Azure AD can be used as a standalone cloud directory for your organization, but you can also integrate existing on-premise Active Directory with Azure AD. Some of the features of integration include directory sync and single sign-on, which further extend the reach of your existing on-premises identities into the cloud for an improved admin and end user experience. Learn more

    Gain New Agility with Agile IT

    If you’re reading this post with minimal or no experience with Active Directory, you have no need to worry. Agile IT takes care of the “heavy lifting” when it comes to connecting everything together into one unified system.

    Once we have, it’s important to remember that your people will continue to use and manage your new hybrid of local and cloud-based resources exactly the same way they are accustomed to managing your on-premises network, with the same Active Directory tools and screens. Their network identities remain the same, and they don’t need a separate ID or password for the cloud!

    Share this post with your own trusted technology experts to get their opinion then contact Agile IT to learn how quickly, painlessly and productively you can scale your data center resources to meet new demands and respond to new opportunities.

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