Azure Active Directory Review

Has a high learning curve, confusing licensing when users have hybrid deployments, and isn't very intuitive

What is our primary use case?

The solution is a hybrid cloud with connectors into Azure/Microsoft 365 cloud.

How has it helped my organization?

I am still figuring out the whole on-prem/Azure Active Directory Premium/Microsoft 365 integrations and administrative connections.

What is most valuable?

The scalability of the solution is good.

Technical support can be helpful.

What needs improvement?

It's not intuitive and we use it mainly for our hybrid capability now and are expanding our footprint in Microsoft 365. The integration between on-prem and Online is interesting. However, the learning curve is high.

When you have an Office 365 enterprise subscription, it comes with Azure Active Directory, however, you don't have an Azure subscription. Yet, all of our active directory connectors put our credentials into the Azure Active Directory. 

There are enough things that aren't implemented on our side and we are in the middle of this transition.  I don't blame the product necessarily for that. However, there are links and items within Microsoft 365 that still point back to the .com side.

Items seem to continue to move, such as security and compliance. Now there's a security portal and a compliance portal, and all three are still being maintained, however, one's being phased in and the others are being phased out. Things continue to change. It's just been a bit to learn. There's a lot to keep track of. There should be a bit more transparency.

The Office 365 subscriptions are a bit confusing with a hybrid environment with what credential has an Microsoft 365 subscription.  However, then some of the documentation I was reading this week was where I ran into a wall. This particular document clearly showed that when you have a particular ability on the Azure side, and then you have another ability on the Office side, intuitively the Microsoft cloud knows to give you certain other rights, to be able to do stuff. This settings and configurations are in different places. Some things are then in the Exchange Online, some things are in the Intune section, etc.

I am not sure if the intent is to have an Microsoft 365 administrator with a second subscription for a cloud admin account or not.  I was trying to do something in Exchange online and received a message that I couldn't do it because I didn't have a mailbox. It's frustrating and confusing at times. There are things like that just are a different user experience between on-prem and online.

The Microsoft Premier Agreement we have has been very beneficial and we have had an excellent experience with a couple of different short cycle projects.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been working with the solution for just over a year and I have been involved for the last five months. It's been under a year, and not very long just yet.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability seems to be there.  We are not a very big shop but we have unique needs and requirements.

How are customer service and technical support?

The premier services we have are very good. We have a contact that's been with Microsoft a while and that's really saved us. The reach back into field engineers and their amazing ability to get the job done have been hugely beneficial.  The Exchange Online engineer we had was worth double what we paid for. It was amazing. If it weren't for that, I am not sure if we would have made our schedule.  Often the timing hasn't lined up, with short notice compliance requirements and implementation constraints due to configuration or version of technology.  They are very responsive, but depending on if it's break fix or planning, the planning side as longer cycles.   

How was the initial setup?

I wasn't a part of the initial setup. I can't speak to how long the deployment took or how easy or difficult the process was.

What about the implementation team?

We had assistance with the setup. We're actually bringing in some more help as our needs have short turn cycles and some ageing infrastructure that we still have to move online.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I would say to make sure you have a trusted integration partner or someone on staff that has been through this transition.

What other advice do I have?

We're just customers. We don't have a business relationship with the company.

While we use the on-premises model, we also have it synced for hybrid functionality.

With COVID especially, there have been a lot of changes in a lot of companies and a lot of rethinking of processes lately.

We're in the process of rolling out Office 356 internally. We've had really great feedback that people really like Teams, and we want to move more into that area. We had a roadmap meeting with Microsoft a few months ago. It was probably five months ago, four or five months ago.

Some of the more accessible types of items were on the roadmap for the first quarter of this year. However, Microsoft's working hard at listening to customers, especially through the COVID situation that changed a lot of work and priorities. The collaboration stuff has changed. They've been pushing a little bit more on getting some more integrations. We're not going to have that kind of clout where I am, however, where I used to work, we would have. We were the ones that were making sure the Exchange got upgraded and got to the developers.

I would rate the solution at a six out of ten. If the solution offered better transparency/clarity I might rate it higher.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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