Azure Active Directory is an open, flexible and enterprise-grade cloud offering of a computing platform for various ranges of customers.
It is a growing collection of cloud services for building, deploying and testing your applications. It also provides you with the freedom to build and deploy your applications wherever you want on the Azure cloud for your usage.
Any of the Azure applications that you would be using has Azure Active Directory (AD) services running underneath to authorize and authenticate your applications and services.
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Microsoft Azure Active Directory
Azure Active Directory, in short, is known as the Azure AD, can be referred to as Microsoft’s multi-tenant and also the cloud-based directory and identity management service.
Azure Active Directory services put all the three services (namely Core directory services, application access management, and identity governance) into one single service to provide the best of the lot in the Azure realm. Azure Active Directory services with its centralized policy and rules enable developers to handle access control to their applications.
Azure Active Directory services provide an affordable and manageable solution to provide SSO access to thousands and Cloud SaaS applications like Office 365, DropBox and Concur which enables the IT admins to manage easily.
For developers, it allows you to focus on developing the applications faster with simpler API to consume from the identity management standpoint.
Azure Active Directory (AD) services also provide options like multi-factor authentication, device registration, and self-service password management alongside the general active directory functionalities of plain old authentication and authorization.
The major advantage is that the Azure Active Directory services can be integrated with the core Windows Active Directory services by just 4 clicks, giving the administrators the peace of mind in managing all the authorization, authentication requests at one place.
It would be a shame not to mention that every Office 365, Azure and Dynamics CRM tenant is already an Azure AD service tenant by default.
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How reliable is the Azure Active Directory (AD) service?
The most important factors that come into play when you want to choose the best of the active directory services of Azure are multi-tenant aware, geo-distributed and highly available.
Azure AD services come with automatic failure option as Azure runs out of its 28 data centers around the world, with a replication factor of 2, you don’t even have to worry about any possible data loss.
To be even precise, every of Microsoft’s own cloud offerings depends on Azure AD services for their identity needs.
The free edition of Azure AD services, as an administrator, you can manage users and groups, synchronize with on-premises directories, SSO, Office 365 and many other SaaS offerings like Workday, Concur, Google Apps, Baux and many more.
In addition to these free edition capabilities, it would be better to add paid services like Azure Active Directory Basic, Premium P1, Premium P2 editions too.
These are explained in detail, but a common thing with all these three is that they are built on Azure AD Free edition to provide additional capabilities like Spanning self-service, security reporting, monitoring enhancements, multi-factor authentication and safer access to a mobile workforce.
Azure Active Directory Basic:
This is designed for task workers with cloud-first requirements. Provides enhanced productivity, cost-effective features like group-based access management, self-service password reset for cloud applications, and Azure AD Application Proxy – all of these backed by wonderful SLA of 99.9% availability.
Azure Active Directory Premium P1:
This is designed to provide better features over and above the basic free edition of Azure AD services with feature-rich enterprise-level identity management capabilities.
This is the perfect edition of the Azure AD services with almost all the services and features that are required for the Information Workers. This edition supports advanced administration, delegation services, and dynamic groups.
Azure Active Directory Premium P2:
This is designed with the most advanced ways and means of protection for all your users and administrators. This edition of the AD services includes all the capabilities in Azure AD Premium P1 as well as our new Identity Protection.
Azure AD’s Identity Protection feature takes advantage of the billions of signals to provide the most efficient and risk-based conditional access to your application's data. Helps discover, restrict and monitor administrators and access to resources.
Related Page: Azure Logic Apps
Benefits of Azure Active Directory Services
Identity and access management for the cloud:
Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is an identity and access management cloud solution that gives you a robust set of capabilities to manage users and groups.
It helps secure access to on-premises and cloud applications, including Office 365 and service (SaaS) applications. As explained earlier, Azure AD comes in three editions: Free, Basic and Premium.
Protect sensitive data and applications:
Azure Multi-Factor Authentication avoids unauthorized access to on-premises and cloud applications by providing an additional level of authentication.
Protect your business and mitigate potential threats with security monitoring, alerts and machine learning-based reports that identify inconsistent access patterns.
Enable self-service for your employees:
Delegate important tasks to your employees, such as resetting passwords and creating and managing groups. Provide self-service password change, reset and self-service group management with Azure AD Premium.
Integrate with Azure Active Directory:
We can extend any of the active directory services to get integrated with the Azure AD services to enable SSO for all applications. User attributes can be synchronized automatically to your cloud AD from any other on-premises directory that you login from.
Azure’s Active Directory services bring all the enterprise directory and identity management to the cloud as a one-stop-shop solution, which caters to all the identity management requirements.
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