Azure Active Directory Overview

Azure Active Directory is the #1 ranked solution in our list of top Single Sign-On (SSO) tools. It is most often compared to Okta Workforce Identity: Azure Active Directory vs Okta Workforce Identity

What is Azure Active Directory?

The Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) enterprise identity service provides single sign-on and multi-factor authentication to help protect your users from 99.9 percent of cybersecurity attacks. With Azure Active Directory, you get:

- Single sign-on enabling access to your apps from anywhere

- Conditional Access and multi-factor authentication to help protect and govern access

- A single identity platform to engage with internal and external users more securely

- Developer tools to easily integrate identity into your apps and services 

To learn more about our solution, ask questions, and share feedback, join our Azure Active Directory Community.

Azure Active Directory Buyer's Guide

Download the Azure Active Directory Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: April 2021

Azure Active Directory Customers

Azure Active Directory is trusted by companies of all sizes and industries including Walmart, Zscaler, Uniper, Amtrak, monday.com, and more.

Azure Active Directory Video

Pricing Advice

What users are saying about Azure Active Directory pricing:
  • "Microsoft has a free version of Azure AD. So, if you don't do a lot of advanced features, then you can use the free version, which is no cost at all because it is underpinning Office 365. Because Microsoft gives it to you as a SaaS, so there are no infrastructure costs whatsoever that you need to incur. If you use the free version, then it is free. If you use the advanced features (that we use), it is a license fee per user."
  • "If you have a different IDP today, I would take a close look at what your licensing looks like, then reevaluate the licensing that you have with Microsoft 365, and see if you're covered for some of this other stuff. Folks sometimes don't realize that, "Oh, I'm licensed for that service in Azure." This becomes one of those situations where you have the "aha" moment, "Oh, I didn't know we can do that. Alright, let's go down this road." Then, they start to have conversations with Microsoft to see what they can gain. I would recommend that they work closely with their TAM, just to make sure that they are getting the right level of service. They may just not be aware of what is available to them."
  • "If you are dealing with one supplier with an out-of-the-box solution, which provides you end-to-end capabilities, then it is naturally cheaper and less of a headache to manage and operate."
  • "Make sure that you get the most out of your Office 365 licenses for Azure AD. If you have additional concerns for users who don't have an Office 365 license, consider Azure AD Premium P1 and P2. Be aware that you have to evaluate your license usage beforehand."
  • "I think we're on the E3 — I think it was about 35 dollars per user."
  • "We pay about $35 per user."

Azure Active Directory Reviews

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Martijn Verbrugge
Manager Infrastucture & Architecture at BDO Global
Real User
Apr 7, 2021
Users don't have to remember multiple accounts and passwords since it is all single sign-on

What is our primary use case?

BDO is a network of firms and a firm is what we call a country. So, we are present in about 160 countries. I am involved in BDO Global, which is not really a firm in the sense that we don't deal directly with clients, but BDO Global hosts IT services for all those 160 countries. A couple of those solutions are a worldwide audit solution that our firms use for financial audits for customers. We have a globally running portal solution, which firms are using to collaborate with our customers directly. All these services are basically based on Azure AD for authentication and authorization. This… more »

Pros and Cons

  • "It has been very instrumental towards a lot of services we run, especially on the single sign-on side. For example, we have 160 countries that all run their own IT but we still are able to provide users with a single sign-on experience towards global applications. So, they have a certain set of accounts that they get from their local IT department, then they use exactly the same account and credentials to sign into global services. For the user, it has been quite instrumental in that space. It is about efficiency, but also about users not having to remember multiple accounts and passwords since it is all single sign-on. Therefore, the single sign-on experience for us has been the most instrumental for the end user experience."
  • "We have a custom solution now running to tie all those Azure ADs together. We use the B2B functionality for that. Improvements are already on the roadmap for Azure AD in that area. I think they will make it easier to work together between two different tenants in Azure AD, because normally one tenant is a security boundary. For example, company one has a tenant and company two has a tenant, and then you can do B2B collaboration between those, but it is still quite limited. For our use case, it is enough currently. However, if we want to extend the collaboration even further, then we need an easier way to collaborate between two tenants, but I think that is already on the roadmap of Azure AD anyway."

What other advice do I have?

This solution is a prerequisite with some of the bigger Microsoft services, so if you want to use Office 365, Dynamics, etc., then you need Azure AD. However, it is also quite good to use for other services as well because they are currently supporting tens of thousands of other applications that you can sign into with an Azure account. So, it is not only for Microsoft Office, and I think that is probably a misconception in many people's heads. You can use it for many other cloud services as well as a single sign-on solution. My biggest point would be that it can be used for Microsoft…
Tom Aafloen
IT Security Consultant at Onevinn AB
Consultant
Apr 9, 2021
The passwordless feature means users don't need a password anymore and makes it easier for them to be more secure

What is our primary use case?

I use it for managing identities, access, and security in a centralized way. I help other people use this product.

Pros and Cons

  • "Using [Azure AD's] passwordless technology, you're not even using a password anymore. You're basically just creating a logon request without actually sending or typing or storing the password. This is awesome for any user, regardless of whether you're a factory worker or a CFO. It's secure and super-simple."
  • "The Azure AD Application Proxy, which helps you publish applications in a secure way, has room for improvement. We are moving from another solution into the Application Proxy and it's quite detailed. Depending on the role you're signing in as, you can end up at different websites, which wasn't an issue with our old solution."

What other advice do I have?

Talk to someone who knows a lot about it. Sure, you can look at everything on the docs.microsoft.com page, but it can be hard to understand what each feature is and the value it give you. Talk to someone who knows both licensing and technology, to understand what's there and what you should pay for and what you should not pay for. There are also a lot of good videos out there, like sessions from Microsoft Ignite. You also have the Microsoft Mechanics video series on YouTube with a lot of videos. So if you like to learn through video, there's a lot available for you. You can also go to docs of…
Learn what your peers think about Azure Active Directory. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: April 2021.
474,319 professionals have used our research since 2012.
DM
reviewer1548177
Product Manager/Architect at a consumer goods company with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
Apr 8, 2021
We can see all facets of the business, providing us more visibility

What is our primary use case?

We run in a hybrid model. We have our Active Directory on-premise directory services that we provide. We basically went to Azure so we could provide additional capabilities, like single sign-on and multi-factor authentication. We are running in a hybrid environment. It is not completely cloud-native. We sync our on-premise directory to the cloud.

Pros and Cons

  • "It enhanced our end user experience quite a bit. Instead of the days of having to contact the service desk with challenges for choosing their password, users can go in and do it themselves locally, regardless of where they are in the world. This has certainly made it a better experience accessing their applications. Previously, a lot of times, they had to remember multiple usernames and passwords for different systems. This solution brings it all together, using a single sign-on experience."
  • "The thing that is a bit annoying is the inability to nest groups. Because we run an Azure hybrid model, we have nested groups on-premise which does not translate well. So, we have written some scripts to kind of work around that. This is a feature request that we have put in previously to be able to use a group that is nested in Active Directory on-premise and have it handled the same way in Azure."

What other advice do I have?

For others using Azure ID, take cookie online training. They are widely available, free, and give you a very good idea of what path you need to go to. So, if you want to take some professional training to become a guru, then you know what classes to go take and the fundamentals that you need to take before you get into that class. So, I highly recommend taking the video term. I come from an Active Directory background for more than 20 years. Coming into Azure was actually great. We had somebody leave the company who was managing it, and they said, "Hey David, I know you are working for this…
NadeemAkhtar1
Principal Service Engineer at a energy/utilities company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Apr 13, 2021
Flexibility around accessing company systems from anywhere at any time has proven to be helpful

What is our primary use case?

We are using Azure Active Directory (AD) for: * Application authentication, which is single sign-on. * Multi-factor authentication (MFA). * Conditional access for people coming in from non-trusted networks, which are interlinked. * Azure AD B2B. These are the four big items that we are using.

Pros and Cons

  • "Azure Active Directory provides us with identity-based authentication, which secures access at the user level and also integrates with conditional access policies and multi-factor authentication helping to increase the identity security for that person. So, the hacking and leaking of passwords is a secondary problem because you will not authenticate a person with one factor. There is a second factor of authentication available to increase the security premise for your company."
  • "There is a concept of cross-tenant trust relationships, which I believe Microsoft is actively pursuing. That is something which in the coming days and years to come by will be very key to the success of Azure Active Directory, because many organizations are going into mergers and acquisitions or spinning off new companies. They will still have to access the old tenant information because of multiple legal reasons, compliance reasons, and all those things. So, there should be some level of tenant-level trust functionality, where you can bring people from other tenants to access some part of your tenant application. So, that is an area which is growing. I believe Microsoft is actively pursuing this, and it will be an interesting piece."

What other advice do I have?

Look at the market. However, look at it from an end-to-end perspective, especially focused on your applications and how a solution will integrate with your overall security landscape. This is key. Azure Active Directory provides this capability, integrating with your Office 365 tenant, data security elements, classifications, identity protection, device registrations, and Windows operating system. Everything comes end-to-end integrated. While there is no harm evaluating different tools, Azure AD is an out-of-the-box solution from Microsoft, which is very helpful. Every day we are increasing…
AA
reviewer934989
Deliver Practice Director at a computer software company with 201-500 employees
MSP
Top 5Leaderboard
Dec 11, 2020
Easy to use, accessible from anywhere, and very stable

What is our primary use case?

A lot of our clients basically want to go to the cloud and they don't know how to proceed with doing so. The first thing we recommended is to make sure their identity is in Azure AD as a hybrid approach. We're not getting rid of their on-premises environment, and instead basically, if they're planning to go to Office 365, they will be able to take advantage of the Azure Active Directory.

Pros and Cons

  • "The solution's ease of use is one of its most valuable features."
  • "Transitioning to the cloud is very difficult. They need the training to make it easier."

What other advice do I have?

It's offered as a service. We're using the latest version. We use it with various versions of the cloud (public, private, cloud). That said, a lot of the time the organization also has already some Active Directory on-premises, and that is something that we help out with in terms of bringing them to the cloud, to the Azure Active Directory. I'd advise new users not to be afraid to go to the cloud. The cloud has a lot of benefits, including software as a service, SaaS applications. You don't have to worry about hardware updates, or maintaining a license for different applications. Just go start…
MW
reviewer1538829
Principal Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
Apr 8, 2021
A central point for authentication, providing cloud lock-in for our company

What is our primary use case?

The use case for this solution is the access to Office 365, Azure subscriptions, and several software as a service platforms as well as other SaaS-developed applications that we provide access to, such as, OpenID Connect, OAuth, or SAML.

Pros and Cons

  • "It is a central point where we provide the cloud lock-in for our company. We focus the multi-factor authentication within Azure AD before jumping to other clouds or software as a service offerings. So, it is the central point when you need to access something for our company within the cloud. You go to Azure AD and can authenticate there, then you move from there to the target destination or the single sign-on."
  • "It would be awesome to have a feature where you can see the permissions of a user in all their Azure subscriptions. Right now, you have to select a user, then you have to select the subscription to see which permissions the user has in their selected subscriptions. Sometimes, you just want to know, "Does that user have any permissions in any subscriptions?" That would be awesome if that would be available via the portal."

What other advice do I have?

I would rate Azure AD as a nine out of 10.
SW
reviewer1474218
Senior Information Technology Manager at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Jan 27, 2021
Stable and scalable, but reliable user-training is lacking

What is our primary use case?

We use it mainly for our Office 365 files. The integration between the two is interesting. It's been a learning curve.

Pros and Cons

  • "It's definitely both stable and scalable."
  • "Overall, it's not a very intuitive solution."

What other advice do I have?

Overall, I would give Microsoft Azure Active Directory Premium a rating of four out of ten. They could really benefit from some better user-training.
SW
reviewer1474218
Senior Information Technology Manager at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Jan 25, 2021
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.

Pros and Cons

  • "It's not intuitive and we use it mainly for our Office 365 files. The integration between the two is interesting. However, the learning curve is high."
  • "The scalability of the solution is good."

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…
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