Credit Where It’s Due – Azure AD Connect

When we first moved to Office 365 one of the most dreaded things to do was connect our Active Directory to ‘the cloud’. We want to eventually move to hybrid Exchange on-prem and cloud, but that’s a little ways down the road. What we wanted seemed simple, get our users info up in the cloud so they could log in to the Office 365 portal, install their software (on up to 5 PC’s!), get to OneDrive, SharePoint, etc. To do this required DirSync, a weird little tool that seemed to be leftover from ForeFront identity manager. Long story short, it took a (very) talented Microsoft engineer hours to figure out how and why this wasn’t working and fix it, set up the tool for every three hours to sync, and voila! Our email addresses and passwords were now syncing to the cloud. It was a little shaky, but it worked. Until it didn’t.

About two weeks ago it stopped. Nothing showed as to why it wasn’t syncing, from all appearances it was. But no information was changing in the cloud. As more and more people’s passwords expired on the cycle, they had a live password to the network, and their old (last) password to Office 365. I dreaded having to go through this again with some poor MS Engineer, it wasn’t fun the first time. Then I saw it:

Azure Active Directory Connect (Preview)

The replacement for DirSync and other federated functions was in preview, and so loathe to try to untangle the failing DirSync, I thought I would give this a try. On a nice clean machine I ran the setup. A wizard walked through a few simple steps and in a few moments it was syncing up to the cloud. I know it’s still preview, but YIKES this was night and day for setting up the connection. This was slick, effective, easy and is working non-stop now for 5 days. Totally painless.

So far, I think Microsoft may be the farthest along in real cloud/on-prem integration technologies. They know what real people in the real world have to use and deal with, and produce tools like this to save tons of time for us. Definitely a must review for anyone doing Office 365 or other projects requiring AD in the cloud.

Hats off to you guys! This is the way to do it.

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