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Adewale Oluwaseyi
Technical Lead at Freelance Consultant
Real User
Offers multi-factor authentication, improves the security posture, and is quite stable

Pros and Cons

  • "With Azure Conditional Access you can specify network locations where you want some of the services in the organization to be available to users, and where you don't want users to have access."
  • "The product needs to be more user-friendly."

What is our primary use case?

I use a Microsoft 365 cloud deployment and I have an organization where users are created. All of these users are hosted in Azure AD. I send emails in Exchange Online. 

For collaboration, we use Teams and SharePoint. Basically, all of these Microsoft products are on Azure AD. This is due to the fact that for you to use any of these products, users have to be created and these users are being hosted in Azure Active Directory. Without the users in the first place, the products are not used. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable aspect of the solution is the ability to create users and host them in Azure AD. That is the bedrock - whatever it is you are doing, you're building on the fact that you have users created. We have Microsoft Teams to manage users and also to manage groups which allow us to manage collaborations and do all sorts of things.

Azure AD has features that have helped improve our security posture. It contains the Azure audit logs that allow you to also audit activities in the organization including those that have happened over a period of time. There is Azure sign-in that allows you to check for sign-in over a period of time for users.

From Azure Active Directory you can actually identify the IP address and run checks or maybe block the IP to improve the security posture of the organization.

The Azure sign-on and audit logs are very handy for a regular admin. They offer the most basic admin solutions to carry out activities on Azure security settings to identify potential threats and carry out some corrective actions on it.

We can use Azure Active Directory to deploy enterprise applications to incorporate third-party applications into the organization and make them available to users. You can put in place multilingual authentications and you can specify the kind of authentication you want to be available for your organization.

Most recently, you can use password-based authentication and multi-factor authentication, which allows for the ability to bring on third-party applications and to incorporate them and deploy them for users.

With Azure Conditional Access you can specify network locations where you want some of the services in the organization to be available to users, and where you don't want users to have access. You can customize and define conditional access to whatever suits the organization and based on what you want, including information protection. You can get conditional access depending on the license you have.

What needs improvement?

From my personal experience, I'd say that the features need to be more visible to make the product easier to explore for new users. They need to make it possible for someone with very little knowledge to come in and find things. The product needs to be more user-friendly. 

The solution needs to update documentation much more regularly. They need to just come out and update the documentation to reflect new features and make sure the updates are included in the already existing documentation so that someone like me can just pick up the documentation, read it, and know that it is very up-to-date listed and has all the new features contained within it.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Azure Active Directory Office 365 for over two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is exceptionally stable. It's just a way to go on another solution, however, that said, I've noticed a 99.9% stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It's my understanding that the solution is very scalable. 

In my experience, I've managed hundreds of users on this product.

How are customer service and support?

We can contact and support directly from the Azure Active Directory if we get stuck. As long as you are actually on the most basic billing subscription, you will be able to access assistance. That said, depending on the Azure license you have, you can get access to technical support for Microsoft Azure Active Directory.

My personal experience with using Microsoft support has been positive. I want to be fair, to be very honest, and the Microsoft support has to be one of the most agreeable out there as all you need to do is just submit the ticket and you get someone to contact you very quickly. They are always available. From the perspective of Azure Active Directory, as long as you have the required license you can contact the corresponding level of support. You can be sure of getting corporate support when you need it.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Previously, the organization had an environment where we managed everything locally. Azure Active Directory actually was our first entry into cloud solutions. We have not used other cloud solutions apart from Azure Active Directory.

How was the initial setup?

The difficulty or ease of the initial implementation depends on the company and the level of experience as well as the level of knowledge of the IT team. The experience needed for cloud solutions is relative. I can say it's straightforward and even with a little experience or knowledge it is straightforward. The documentation is available and you can read and follow the documentation to handle the process. Of course, for new users, it could be a bit more straightforward.

For me, provisioning takes a few minutes - maybe between ten to 20 minutes. Normally it should take less than 30 minutes.

For this particular instance, we needed to add multiple users individually and sometimes as a bulk upload in the case of inboxes. Some needed third-party services. The documentation made the process pretty easy, however, when we did have issues, we could reach out to technical support to finish anything up. 

What was our ROI?

We have seen an ROI. It's actually cut some costs. Initially, we were using a local environment. Now, we've almost rid ourselves of one of our local environments. Moving to the cloud has saved us a lot of costs and actually, it's a very good experience. It's cost-effective compared to what we used before. It's better in terms of lowering our overall expenditure.

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

The prices are not too out of place. We're just gradually getting out of COVID and Microsoft is actually putting some renewals, licenses, and some products out just to cushion the effect of license costs as companies recover. With Microsoft, some products also offer free trials. 

We'd like to see more of a discount on existing licenses. They also need to consider having some free licenses, some free subscriptions.

What other advice do I have?

I'm actually a customer. I have an environment in my home meaning I have a subscription that I've paid for. However, I also do consultancy based on the knowledge I currently have. I offer my knowledge to other organizations.

I would advise new users to allow open demos of cloud solutions and figure out what is on offer, what is available, or what can be made better. By doing a POC, you'll get to see resources used and what it's like to handle an environment entirely in the cloud. Organizations can consider gradually moving over or they can actually move completely to the cloud depending on what they want to do. 

I'd rate the solution at an eight out of ten. It's a good solution, especially for companies following the trend of moving onto the cloud. There's always room for improvement, however, currently, they are doing very well.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Khadim Ali
Dynamics 365 CRM / Power Apps Developer at Get Dynamics
Real User
Excellent documentation and app registration services with very reliable stability

Pros and Cons

  • "The initial setup was very straightforward."
  • "A couple of years ago, I experienced some difficulty in implementing the solutions, the services of Azure AD. In one instance, I was not able to configure Azure AD for a registration. This was two or three years ago. However, currently, the documentation is very clear and there are no loopholes or anything that could hinder even a simple IT administrator to implement these services."

What is our primary use case?

Azure AD is primarily integrated with all of the Microsoft services, such as Microsoft 365, Office 365, and Dynamics 365/Power Apps. Behind the scenes, we are, in one way or another, using Azure AD for our application security, identity management, and to access purpose services. At times, we need to configure some advanced features to provide access and identity to third-party apps to integrate with Dynamic 365. 

How has it helped my organization?

Unfortunately, I don't have any numbers and metrics related to organizational improvement off-hand.

That said, using Azure AD app services, we don't have to care about secure access to our Dynamics 365 data. Azure AD performs the authentication on behalf of our application and that's great. We don't have to implement security on our side to secure access for third-party services or third-party software or applications.

Azure B2C has also helped us in providing secure access to the Power Apps portal, or external content.

What is most valuable?

The app registration services are great. This basically simplifies security in order to give access to third-party apps from within Microsoft services such as Dynamics 365 and Power Apps. We can do this in a very secure manner using the AD. This really very simplifies the identity and access management for us.  

I use Azure B2C for providing access to external users. It was a really great experience to configure Azure AD B2C. I like this feature, as it provides a single sign-on for existing or new users; even new Azure AD users can be provided with sign-ins to our portal.

The solution has features that have helped improve our security posture. For example, without Azure B2C or any third-party identity service like Google or Gmail, we are compelled to store users' credentials and sensitive data in Dynamics 365 contact table somewhere. By using Azure B2C, we are totally independent of this.

The solution hasn’t affected the end-user experience. Usually, users are not so IT aware, so they don't feel an impact related to the change. We know that having secure access for them is important for them and also for us, however, they don’t feel any noticeable difference with the extra security in place.

What needs improvement?

Honestly speaking, I haven't thought about where areas of improvement might be necessary.

Everything was very smooth every time we used Azure AD. In other Microsoft solutions, we come across some bugs or workarounds, et cetera. However, as far as Azure AD is concerned, or maybe, to the extent that we are using it at least, we haven't come across any issues.

In terms of identity and access management and concerns, all of our needs are provided by the existing implemented features.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using the advanced feature of Azure AD for the last three years or so.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Currently, Azure AD and most of the Azure services are very, very stable. A couple of years ago, I experienced some difficulty in implementing the solutions, the services of Azure AD. In one instance, I was not able to configure Azure AD for a registration. This was two or three years ago. However, currently, the documentation is very clear and there are no loopholes or anything that could hinder even a simple IT administrator to implement these services.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I am just using the product for integration with Dynamics 365 and Power Apps solutions. Right now, we are integrating with Azure AD in a very simple manner. I'm not sure if we plan to expand usage.

In our company, 100 to 200 people are connecting to PowerApps portals using Azure AD B2C.

There are two or three developers right now who use Azure AD for identity and access management purposes. Managers will not be using Azure AD in that it is not used to configure and trigger solutions using Azure.

How are customer service and support?

We haven't used customer support contact up to this point. Everything that we need is already provided through the documentation. So far, we haven't had any need to contact customer support for Azure AD.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We did not use a different solution before we used Azure AD. We only use Microsoft solutions.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward. The documentation is very good and the steps are very well documented. I remember three years ago I encountered some undocumented feature or maybe a bug when configuring Azure AD for apps registration. However, lately, this is not the case. Currently, the documentation is very up-to-date and very clear, and almost every time I register the user, the apps in Azure AD, and configuration the Azure B2C have helpful documentation. They probably made some form of an update to the system that fixed any past bugs or issues.

The deployment hardly takes 15 to 30 minutes - and that's for app registration. To complete the whole process on the Azure AD side and on our Dynamics 365 side - including Azure B2C - it took, when I implemented it for the first time, one hour to set up everything. That was the first time. Since then, I've gotten faster and it now hardly takes 30 to 40 minutes to configure Azure B2C.

What about the implementation team?

We are an IT company ourselves. A hundred percent of the time we use our own skills and documentation to implement everything related to Azure AD and Dynamics 365 or anything else.

What was our ROI?

We have seen an ROI due to the fact that it integrates with other Microsoft services very seamlessly. In that sense, it definitely saves time and cost as opposed to implementing something that we don't know, such as other identity systems. 

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

I don't know much about the pricing. As far as licensing is concerned, there are two options. There is a set of free services that are offered through a free license and if you have a Microsoft tenant or any Microsoft service such as Dynamics 365 or Power Apps, you have access to a free set of services that Azure AD provides. This includes registration and some other items. 

If you want to use Azure AD's advanced features, they are not provided for free. There are two types of premium licenses that are available for anyone who is a registered licensed user.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did not evaluate different solutions before we chose Azure AD. This is due to the fact that, in the Microsoft ecosystem, Azure AD fits best in terms of providing access and identity management to all of the other Microsoft online services.

What other advice do I have?

We are a Microsoft partner.

I'm not sure which version of the solution we're using. This is an online service. As I'm a Dynamics 365/Power Apps developer, usually I don't bother to check what version of Azure AD is currently hosting on the online services.

I would advise new users, if they are using Microsoft online services, that Azure AD is the best choice for all identity and access management requirements. This is due to the fact that it is in the same ecosystem. It understands the needs of its own vendors much better compared to any other external identity service.

I'd rate the solution a perfect ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud
Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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Learn what your peers think about Azure Active Directory. Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: November 2021.
552,407 professionals have used our research since 2012.
OA
Senior Infrastructure Security Engineer at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
Its secure scores provide suggestions and recommendations to improve your security posture

Pros and Cons

  • "Multi-factor authentication (MFA) has improved our customers' security posture. Multi-factor authentication has two layers of authentication, which helps in case you input your credentials into a phishing website and then it has access to your credentials. So if they use your credentials, then you have proof on your phone that was sent to the end user."
  • "Sometimes, what one customer may like, another may not like it. We have had customers asking, "Why is Microsoft forcing us to do this?" For example, when you use Exchange Server on-premise, then you can customize it for your company and these customizations are unlimited. However, if you use Exchange Online or with Microsoft 365, then your ability to make modifications is limited. So, only the cloud versus is limited."

What is our primary use case?

We mainly use Azure Active Directory for authentication, identity management, and single sign-on. A user can use a local Active Directory password to sign into other platforms, like Zendesk or Zoom. These on-premise users are synced to Azure Active Directory. We have some other users who only use cloud, so they don't have instances on-premise, i.e., they are pure cloud. Both of these types of users can authenticate their credentials with other applications and single sign-on. 

We use Microsoft solutions, such as Microsoft Endpoint Manager for mobile device management (MDM), Microsoft Defender, and Advanced Threat Protection (ATP). For our customers and clients, we do something similar. We also send logs from Microsoft 365 to different SIEMs.

We sync users from on-premise using AD Connect sync. We sync them to Azure Active Directory, where we have some instances. 

How has it helped my organization?

We have secure scores and compliance scores. These scores tell you your standpoint in terms of recommendations, vulnerabilities, etc. So, it can tell you what you need to configure to increase your security posture, then you can tell where you are. With the compliance scores, it will tell you what you need to do to improve it. The secure scores will tell you that maybe you should enable MFA for all users or that all admins should have MFA. It gives you a lot of suggestions and recommendations to improve your security posture. 

Microsoft Endpoint Manager acts as a mobile device management tool. It focuses on the firewall and does device compliance policy. There are a lot of policies that you can use to align your organization in regards to compliance and regulations. Also, there are security settings that you can enable.

In Microsoft Defender, it accesses the devices onboarded to your Microsoft Defender so you can see the vulnerabilities in terms of the applications installed on a system as well as the version of the OS that you are using. It shows you the patch management that you need to do for vulnerabilities. 

What is most valuable?

Authentication and identity management are key. For someone to authenticate your account, it is like having the password or access to your password. If someone gains unauthorized access to an account, then they can perform a lot of malicious activities, such as sending spam emails or falsifying emails, including authorizing payments.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) has improved our customers' security posture. Multi-factor authentication has two layers of authentication, which helps in case you input your credentials into a phishing website and then it has access to your credentials. So if they use your credentials, then you have proof on your phone that was sent to the end user. 

You can also use Conditional Access to block sign-ins from other countries. For example, if someone attempts to login from Canada or the US, and your company is based in Africa or somewhere else, then it blocks that user. In this case, it will flag the user and IP as suspicious.

There is also impossible travel, which is an identity protection feature that flags and blocks. For instance, if you are signing in from California, then in the next two hours, you are logging in from Kenya. We know that a flight to Kenya couldn't possibly happen within two hours.

Admins can set password changes for 30, 60, or 90 days, whether it is on-premise or the cloud.

What needs improvement?

Sometimes, what one customer may like, another may not like it. We have had customers asking, "Why is Microsoft forcing us to do this?" For example, when you use Exchange Server on-premise, then you can customize it for your company and these customizations are unlimited. However, if you use Exchange Online or with Microsoft 365, then your ability to make modifications is limited. So, only the cloud versus is limited.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it for four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very simple to manage.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The scalability is massive. When you get your licenses, those should give you the limits of what you can do, but the limits are considerable. It should scale automatically as your workloads increase.

How are customer service and support?

If enough customers have questions about something, the Microsoft product engineering team will pick it up, document, and design it, then publish it in Microsoft.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

At a previous company, I was the technical lead and expert. We were Microsoft partners. So, we picked up tickets for Microsoft 365, working on different issues from eCommerce, Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive. 

You can maintain your previous investment in identity management solutions by just integrating them with Azure Active Directory. You can also integrate other solutions with Azure Active Directory, then use Azure Active Directory as a single sign-on.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is straightforward. 

Active Directory is a place where all your instances, users, identities are being stored. You can create users and identities, then they are stored in Active Directory. Then, Azure Active Directory is just like a cloud-based scenario. When you create users, they are there. You can join devices to your Active Directory.

You need to have the user's information: their password, email, location and ID. All those things are being stored in Azure Active Directory. 

Deployment time depends on the scope of work. For example, a single user could take about 10 minutes to deploy, if you know what you are doing.

What about the implementation team?

Deployment needs just one person to do it.

What was our ROI?

It protects your identity and keeps you secure. The return on investment is that it keeps your identity from being compromised or you being scammed. That is the investment that customers pay for.

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

Previously, only building and global administrators could purchase subscriptions or licenses. Mid-last year, Microsoft made it so users can purchase the license online.

Microsoft business subscription is for 200 to 300 users. If you have more than 300 users, you can't purchase the business plan. You have to purchase the enterprise plan. The enterprise plan is for 301 users and above. 

Pay as you go is also available. If you pay as you go in Azure, you will be billed for whatever you use.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I know AWS has something similar.

What other advice do I have?

It is an excellent solution. I would advise going for it.

I have received several complaints from different people and customers too, "Why do I have to do it two times? I want to do it just one time." However, there is a reason for it - we are increasing the security layer. That is why it takes two times, because it is organizational policy. So, they just have to comply.

Previously, admins could only release quarantined emails, so you would need to speak to the admin to release them. Now, if a user's message gets quarantined, then the end user releases it.

If you have Microsoft 365, then you have Azure AD. They go hand in hand.

I would rate this solution as 10 out of 10.

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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AA
Delivery Practice Director at a computer software company with 201-500 employees
MSP
Top 5Leaderboard
Easy to use, accessible from anywhere, and very stable

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 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.

How has it helped my organization?

Especially nowadays, people are working from home and we have a client that we actually started migrating to Azure Active Directory and moving some of their applications into the cloud. Since COVID struck, and a lot of people are working from home, since the data center's on-premises, it is very hard for them to bring all of their users into VPN and some of them there are outdated and they can't really accommodate the number of users that are working from home.

However, with Azure AD, some of their applications we have in there they can access from anywhere - even from their home basically, as long as they have internet access. Some of the applications we brought into Azure AD include the Windows Virtual Desktop to basically run their application in the cloud. We built a gateway to their own premises data center and they go into the Windows Virtual Desktop and they can authenticate using Azure AD and then they can access their on-premises application. It's basically the transition from being on-site all the time to working from home. It's a smooth transition because of Azure AD.

What is most valuable?

The solution's ease of use is one of its most valuable features. You can access it anywhere and the integration into existing and some legacy applications is good. You can plug into single sign-on self-service, password reset, or conditional access. If you're inside, you don't need to do multi-factor authentication, MFA's, built-in. 

What needs improvement?

The licensing could be improved. There are premium one, premium two or P1, P2 licensing right now and a lot of organizations are a little bit confused about the licensing information that they have. They want to know how much they're spending. It's not really clear cut. 

Transitioning to the cloud is very difficult. They need the training to make it easier. They should probably put in more training or even include it on the licensing so that there are people that manage their environment have somewhere to come to learn on their own. Maybe there could be some workshop or training within Azure. 

The solution could offer better notifications. They do upgrades once or twice a year. They need to do a better job of alerting users to the changes that are upcoming - especially on the portal where you manage your users and accounts. There needs to be enough time to showcase the new features so your organization is not surprised or put off by sudden changes. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been at this organization since 2016, and therefore have been working with the solution for four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is pretty stable. Once in a while, we get notifications and do a health check if some things are not working or there is some feature or some issue that is acting up. However, that is very seldom.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is really not a problem. You don't have to really worry about that as it's more of a service. It's not like having your own AD that you need to span the main controllers or to purchase hardware. Scalability from 250 users all the way up to a hundred thousand users can be accommodated easily.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support can be hit and miss sometimes. You get like a first-year technician and you don't get the right person. It gets bounced around and eventually, it's either we fix it or somebody's smart enough to know what the issue is. If I was going to rate it from one to 10, say 10 is the best and one is worst, I'd rate it at 7.5 or so.

How was the initial setup?

We've been doing implementations for a while now so for us the initial setup is straightforward. It becomes complex if a company is coming from a complex environment in the beginning, however, nowadays it's straightforward.

While planning, the first thing we do is an assessment and then we go to the design phase from the assessment on what the company has. Then, from the design phase, we designed the Azure infrastructure and do the implementation. The first thing is, of course, the identity. In general, deployment takes two or sometimes three months.

What was our ROI?

The initial investment is high due to the migration if you have a legacy environment like an on-premise Active Directory. However, after that initial investment, you're just paying for the license to hold your information and that has your Active Directory. There's a return on investment probably after few months. In that time, you'll get your money spent back due to the fact that you don't have to purchase a lot of hardware initially. The initial investment is really only to migrate your information or your data. That's where there are costs for a company usually.

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 small. If you're worried, start as a hybrid, which is most of the time maybe 80%, 90%. You can go from lift and shift to Azure Active Directory. If you're a new company, just go right to the cloud. It's easy. You don't have the legacy infrastructure to worry about.

Going to the cloud is as secure as ever. I feel a lot of organizations when you go to the cloud, especially Azure Active Directory, think you're sharing a piece of a rack due to the fact that it's in the cloud with Azure companies. It is a bit more complicated than that. However, the security is there. Azure Active Directory and going into the cloud has been around for 13 years. It's no longer a new or scary subject.

Overall, I would rate the solution at a nine out of ten. If they fixed little things like notifications and licensing issues, I would give them a perfect score.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public 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.
Jitender Singh
Consultant at Upwork Freelancer
Real User
Eliminates the need for VPNs and enables conditional access based on a user's location

Pros and Cons

  • "Conditional Access, Geofencing, and Azure Multi-Factor Authentication are the major security features to secure resources."
  • "We have a lot of freedom in using the Group Policy Objects and, although Group Policy Objects are part of Azure Active Directory, there are still a lot of things that can be improved, such as providing local admin rights to a user. There are various, easy ways that I can do that in the on-premises version, but in the cloud version, it is a bit difficult. You have to create a bunch of policies to make it work."

What is our primary use case?

The use cases depend on my clients' specifications. If they have the on-premises Active Directory and it is a hybrid environment, then objects are synchronized with the cloud in Azure Active Directory. Services that are on-premises or in the cloud are synchronized with each other, to create a centralized management solution. 

If we're talking about Azure Active Directory only, the cloud-based, centralized management solution, we don't need to use a VPN to access the resources; everything is cloud. We just need to be connected with Azure Active Directory and we can use the resources anywhere in the world and resource security will be intact.

I use both the cloud and on-premises versions.

How has it helped my organization?

Everybody is moving from on-premises to Azure Active Directory because it's cost-effective. They don't need to spend a lot of money on the on-premises resources, such as an on-premises server and maintenance. Now, given that Microsoft has started Windows 365, which is a PC in the cloud, you don't need to have a PC. You can work on an Android tablet from anywhere in the world, using cloud technology.

In terms of the user experience, because the solution is in a cloud environment, people are not bound to work in a specific network. In the old-school way, if you worked from home and you had on-premises Active Directory, you needed to use a VPN. VPNs can be highly unstable because they depend on your home network. If your home network is not good, you won't get the same bandwidth as you would get when using the resources inside the office network. With Active Directory in the cloud, you can use your own network to access the resources. It's faster, reliable, and it's cheaper compared to Active Directory on-premises.

What is most valuable?

  • Conditional Access
  • Geofencing
  • Azure Multi-Factor Authentication

are the major security features to secure resources.

For example, if I don't want users using the company resources outside of India, I will add managed countries within Conditional Access. Only the people from the managed country will be able to access things. If an employee goes out of India and tries to access the resources that have been restricted, they will not be able to open the portal to access the resources.

What needs improvement?

We have a lot of freedom in using the Group Policy Objects and, although Group Policy Objects are part of Azure Active Directory, there are still a lot of things that can be improved, such as providing local admin rights to a user. There are various, easy ways that I can do that in the on-premises version, but in the cloud version, it is a bit difficult. You have to create a bunch of policies to make it work.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Azure Active Directory for six years.

How are customer service and support?

Microsoft works with suppliers and vendors. Certain vendors are very good at providing support and certain vendors are not very good at providing support. It depends on the time zone in which we are opening a ticket and which vendor the ticket is going to.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

How was the initial setup?

It's pretty straightforward in general, although it depends on what kind of requirements a client has.

If I'm deploying with Microsoft Autopilot, it usually takes at least 40 to 50 minutes to deploy one machine. If I'm deploying 1,000 machines in one go, you can multiply that 40 minutes for each of those 1,000 machines. Everything is configured in the cloud, in Azure Active Directory. You just need to purchase the machine, configure things, and ship the machine to the user. When they turn it on they will be able to work on it. Everything will be installed in the backend. If it's not on Autopilot, it's just in a matter of a few clicks to connect the machine to Azure Active Directory.

The deployment plan also depends on the client. If the client is not providing machines to their employees, they want the machine to be BYOD, we will work on the existing computer. In that case, we just set up the policies and ask the user to connect to Azure Active Directory. But if a client is concerned about complete security, and they want the machine to be used in a certain way, and they are providing the machine, then I prefer that it should be Autopilot. It becomes an enterprise-managed machine, and we have more control over it.

What was our ROI?

Clients only invest their money when they know that they are getting a really helpful platform. They want to see that I, as a consultant, am confident in the product I'm asking them to use. I have to be very confident that I am providing them a solution that will definitely work for them.

What other advice do I have?

People have a tendency to keep their information in-house, but the cost of keeping information on-premises in SharePoint servers is very expensive. There is a good chance that, if something happens, they will lose the database. There is no backup. And to keep a backup, you have to pay more for a cloud backup solution to keep your data on another server. You are compromising with your data in a two-sided scenario, where one is on-premises and the other is on a data server as a backup. If you go for the cloud version of Active Directory, everything is secure and everything is in the Microsoft data center, which is reliable and secure. They have disaster management and recovery. That's a win-win situation.

My work is generally on device management, which is on Intune, Endpoint Manager, and Cloud App Security. These all work hand-in-hand. Azure Active Directory is just an assembler of management resources, but Intune makes the device secure. The policies create restrictions. These things work together. If you need Active Directory, you will definitely need Intune.

The largest deployment I worked on with one of my clients was about 2,500 computers. As far as managing them goes, it varies, between 200 to 300 computers at one time in one environment. If I'm working on providing a day-to-day solution, it is different because the queries are different. People usually have problems related to smaller queries, like their printer is not connecting, or they are not able to access SharePoint, or they do not have permissions for a given file. But as far as deployment and designing the architecture of Azure Active Directory goes, I work with midsize companies.

To summarize, the big advantages of this platform are the reliability, cost-effectiveness, and security. These are the features that make it one of the best solutions in the IT industry. Azure AD is the future. Everyone is adopting the cloud environment. I, myself, use Azure Active Directory for my own devices and resources. I encourage other people to accept the future. It gives you more security than the on-premises Active Directory. To me, it is the best solution.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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MW
Principal Consultant at a tech services company with 51-200 employees
Consultant
Top 20
A central point for authentication, providing cloud lock-in for our company

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 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.

How has it helped my organization?

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.

Azure AD added a different layer. We were able to add multi-factor authentication for cloud applications, which was not possible before. We also may reduce our VPN footprint due to the Azure AD application proxy. We have a central point where we have registered our software as a service applications that we obtain from other providers or the applications that we host ourselves.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the possibility to create multi-tenant applications alone, or in combination with Azure Active Directory B2C. So, you can provide access to applications for your external partners without having to care about the accounts of external partners, because they will stick it in there as an AD tenant. That is the feature that I like the most.

The solution has features that have helped improve our security posture: 

  • A tagging mechanism that we use for identifying who is the owner of an application registration. 
  • Conditional access and multi-factor authentication, which are adding a lot to security. 
  • The privileged identity management feature that has arisen off privileged access management. This is helping a lot when providing access to certain roles just-in-time. 

They are also still developing several other features that will help us.

It does affect the end user experience. It depends on where they are. When they are within the corporate network, then they already have a second factor that is automatically assigned to them. When they are outside of the company, that is when they have to provide a second factor. That is mostly a SMS message. Now, with the Microsoft Authenticator app that you can install on your mobile phone, we are shifting towards that. This has reduced errors because you may just say that you confirm a message on your mobile phone instead of typing the six-digit code, hoping that you are still in time, and that you entered it correctly. So, it does affect our employees. We try to be up-to-date there.

Mostly, it affects security. It is an obstacle that you have to climb. For example, if you have to enter the code in from the SMS message, then you have to wait for the SMS message to arrive and copy the code, or you have to transfer the code from the SMS message into the field. We reduce that workload for employees by having them be able to receive a message on their phone, then confirm that message. So, security is less of an obstacle, and it is more natural.

What needs improvement?

The user administration has room for improvement because some parts are not available within the Azure AD portal, but they are available within the Microsoft 365 portal. When I want to assign that to a user, it would be great if that would be available within the Azure AD portal.

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.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it for more than two years now.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is very good. They had a problem recently that was hopefully the exception. 

I am looking forward to the adjustment of the SLA that they increased from 99.9 percent to 99.99 percent. With this increase, which should happen on the first of April (not an April joke), this should be a huge improvement for the visibility towards the world because this is a commitment by Microsoft, saying, "We are taking care of Azure AD." I think that is a very good thing.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

From my point of view, it scales very well. There are different possibilities to take care of it, depending on what you want to achieve. Lately, they introduced something like administration units, where you can achieve that even a bit further to restrict the access of your administrator to a certain group. So, that should be really helpful for even better scaling.

One company has around 50,000 users and another company has around 200 users. For the bigger company, there are several people involved, three to four people. They are taking care of application registrations as well as the Azure AD Connect synchronization to see if there are any errors, then clear those errors. However, it is mostly the application, registration, and configuration of the Azure AD.

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is great. We have access to a special unit within Microsoft where we have additional support besides the technical support. So, it has been really good working with Microsoft.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We have other tools: 

  • Red Hat SSO
  • OpenID Connect
  • OAuth
  • Azure Domain Federation.

We just removed the Azure Domain Federation (AD FS), thanks to the Azure AD.

How was the initial setup?

Deployment time really depends on how you set up your Azure AD. You might: 

  • Want to set up Azure AD Connect, then the process takes longer. 
  • Just use Azure AD, then the process is much faster. 
  • Directly connect to another source of truth, then there is something in-between. 

It really depends on your situation. I would say it takes between an hour and a week.

What about the implementation team?

For the company, I didn't set it up. I did set it up for myself, but that was a simplified situation and I found the process to be straightforward.

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

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.

Consider the usage of Azure AD Premium P1 and P2 when you are not assigning Microsoft or Office 365 licenses. This is really important to get access to good features, like conditional access, privilege identity management, and accessory use.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate Azure AD as a nine out of 10.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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MS
Senior DevOps engineer at a tech vendor with 51-200 employees
Real User
Top 20
Provides secure access to resources and a comprehensive audit trace of logins

Pros and Cons

  • "Azure Active Directory provides access to resources in a very secure manner. We can detect which user is logging in to access resources on the cloud. It gives us a comprehensive audit trace in terms of from where a user signed in and whether a sign-in is a risky sign-in or a normal sign-in. So, there is a lot of security around the access to resources, which helps us in realizing that a particular sign-in is not a normal sign-in. If a sign-in is not normal, Azure Active Directory automatically blocks it for us and sends us an email, and unless we allow that user, he or she won't be able to log in. So, the User Identity Protection feature is the most liked feature for me in Azure Active Directory."
  • "Generally, everything works pretty well, but sometimes, Azure Active Directory has outages on the Microsoft side of things. These outages really have a very big impact on the users, applications, and everything else because they are closely tied to the Azure AD ecosystem. So, whenever there is an outage, it is really difficult because all things start failing. This happens very rarely, but when it happens, there is a big impact."

What is our primary use case?

Our use case for Azure AD is principally to do the role-based access management for our resources. So, we essentially use it for authentication operations for our primary groups and users to secure access to resources.

How has it helped my organization?

It has helped in improving our security posture. It is modeled around that. It is an AD, which means it is a directory of users, objects, and resources, and there is a lot of security in terms of the access model and in terms of who is accessing those resources.

In terms of user experience, it is pretty seamless for any user to use Azure Active Directory. The way its security model works is that once you sign in to Azure Active Directory, you get access to a lot of applications and systems that have Single Sign-on enabled. So, Azure Active Directory works seamlessly as an identity provider for many applications such as Slack, GitHub, etc. That's one of the best parts of it. If it is used properly, only by using the Azure Active Directory sign-in, a person can access different resources, which really improves the user experience.

What is most valuable?

We've benefited from all the security or AD features of this solution. Azure Active Directory is the only directory we've been using, and we make use of pretty much all the features, including the user identity protection features such as MFA. The way it allows us to audit who is logging in and do our work in a secure manner is one of the best features of it.

Azure Active Directory provides access to resources in a very secure manner. We can detect which user is logging in to access resources on the cloud. It gives us a comprehensive audit trace in terms of from where a user signed in and whether a sign-in is a risky sign-in or a normal sign-in. So, there is a lot of security around the access to resources, which helps us in realizing that a particular sign-in is not a normal sign-in. If a sign-in is not normal, Azure Active Directory automatically blocks it for us and sends us an email, and unless we allow that user, he or she won't be able to log in. So, the User Identity Protection feature is the most liked feature for me in Azure Active Directory.

What needs improvement?

Generally, everything works pretty well, but sometimes, Azure Active Directory has outages on the Microsoft side of things. These outages really have a very big impact on the users, applications, and everything else because they are closely tied to the Azure AD ecosystem. So, whenever there is an outage, it is really difficult because all things start failing. This happens very rarely, but when it happens, there is a big impact.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been working as a DevOps engineer for the last four years, and I have been using Azure Active Directory during this time. I got to know it really well over the last two years in my current job and as a part of my Azure Security certification, where I get to know how to secure everything in the cloud by using Azure Active Directory.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is available most of the time. Only once in the last six months, we faced an issue. So, it is very reliable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is managed by Microsoft, so it is not something that is in our hands. We don't manage the infrastructure side and the scalability side.

My present organization is a startup with around a hundred people. There are 5 to 10 people who primarily work in the CloudOps and DevOps space, and we work with Azure Active Directory at some point in time. All people who have resources in Azure, such as the cloud administrators and people from the CloudOps team and the DevOps team, work with Azure AD.

In terms of resources, there are around 100 to 150 resources that we manage within it.

How are customer service and technical support?

Microsoft has extensive documentation on its website about how to set up things in Azure AD. There are also video tutorials. So, typically, we don't need to engage technical support to do anything.

Only when there is an outage or something like that, we had to engage someone from Microsoft. For example, when there was an outage, we didn't know what was happening. There were some strange behaviors in certain applications, and that's when we involved Microsoft's technical support. 

They are very reliable, and they are very fast to respond. The response time also depends on the support plan that an organization has with Microsoft. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I haven't used any other Identity Provider solution.

What was our ROI?

Our organization has definitely seen a return on its investment from using Azure Active Directory. It ties really well with the Azure ecosystem, which is why it makes sense to use Azure Active Directory to access resources.

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

Azure Active Directory has a very extensive licensing model. Most of the features are available in the free and basic version, and then there are premium P1 and P2 editions. The licensing model is based on how many users you have per month. In Australia, for a P1 license, the cost is 8 dollars.

With P1 and P2 licenses, you get a lot of goodies around the security side of things. For example, User Identity Protection is available only in P2. These are extra features that allow you to have a pretty good security posture, but most of the required things are available in the free and basic version.

What other advice do I have?

I would definitely recommend this solution. I have been using it extensively, and it works really well. It is one of the best Identity Provider solutions out there. You have all the guidance from Microsoft to set things up, and if there is an issue, their technical support is highly available. 

It has been around for a while now, and most organizations leverage Active Directory as their on-premises identity provider. This is just Azure managing your Active Directory for you. It is pretty popular and rock-solid.

I haven't used any other Identity Provider solution, which makes it hard for me to compare it with others. Based on my experience and the things that I have done and learned over time, I would rate Azure Active Directory a nine out of 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public 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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KO
Senior Support Engineer at a tech services company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Enables synchronization of user information with third-party applications like Atlassian or GoToMeeting

Pros and Cons

  • "If a company has hundreds of users that already exist in the cloud, and it now wants to enable those same users to be present in third-party applications that their business uses, like Atlassian or GoToMeeting, the provisioning technology can assist in achieving that."
  • "The Cloud Provisioning Agent cannot provision a lot of the information that AD Connect does. For starters, the lightweight version cannot synchronize device information. If you have computers on-premises, the information about them will not be synchronized by the Cloud Provisioning Agent. In addition, if you have a user on the cloud and he changes his password, that information should be written back to the on-premises instance. But that workflow cannot be done with the lightweight agent. It can only be done with the more robust version."

What is our primary use case?

When a customer is trying to synchronize user information from their on-premises environment to the cloud, they might be encountering a series of errors or they may not be able to achieve what they are trying to achieve. They will raise a ticket so that somebody can help resolve the problem or clarify the situation and explain what the workflow should be like. That's where I often come in.

My support scope is focused on the synchronization aspect of Azure Active Directory. My specialty covers scenarios where customers have information in their on-premises environment and they want to synchronize their Active Directory information into the cloud with Azure Active Directory.

In addition to getting on calls and assisting customers to resolve issues, we also try to help educate customers on how to achieve the best results with Microsoft products.

How has it helped my organization?

In terms of the security posture of my customers, in the area of my specialization—the synchronization of information from on-premises to the cloud—there's an aspect we call TLS. There was a version of TLS that was not really secure, but Microsoft has now pushed and made sure that everything running in its platform uses a higher version, TLS 1.2. That means that when you are doing directory synchronization, your machine and your product need to be TLS 1.2 enabled. Microsoft is always working on enforcing the use of the most secure means to carry out whatever workloads customers are running. While my day-to-day job does not involve an emphasis on security, the areas that do involve security elements are emphasized to make things work effectively.

It also helps when you're troubleshooting. If you have an issue, it's easier for a user to look at it and say, "Okay, this is the problem," and to work on it.

What is most valuable?

An aspect of Azure's synchronization technology is called the provisioning service. It's the technology that takes user information from Azure AD into third-party applications. If a company has hundreds of users that already exist in the cloud, and it now wants to enable those same users to be present in third-party applications that their business uses, like Atlassian or GoToMeeting, the provisioning technology can assist in achieving that.

Over the years, the performance of this particular technology has greatly improved. I have seen its evolution and growth. Customers see much more robust performance from that technology and it gives them an easy way to set up their environments. The product has been designed quite well and customer feedback has also been taken into consideration. You can even see the progress of the process: how the user is being created and sent over to the third-party application.

What needs improvement?

Recently, Microsoft has developed lightweight synchronization software, the Cloud Provisioning Agent, to do the job of the preceding, heavier version called AD Connect. You can do a lot more with AD Connect, but it can take a lot of expertise to manage and maintain it. As a result, customers were raising a lot of tickets. So Microsoft developed the lightweight version. However, there are still a lot of features that the Cloud Provisioning Agent lacks. I would like to see it upgraded. 

The Cloud Provisioning Agent cannot provision a lot of the information that AD Connect does. For starters, the lightweight version cannot synchronize device information. If you have computers on-premises, the information about them will not be synchronized by the Cloud Provisioning Agent. In addition, if you have a user on the cloud and he changes his password, that information should be written back to the on-premises instance. But that workflow cannot be done with the lightweight agent. It can only be done with the more robust version.

I believe the Cloud Provisioning Agent will be upgraded eventually, it's just a matter of time.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the Azure Active Directory platform for a little over three years. I started supporting the product in October of 2018.

Our company is a Microsoft partner. When Microsoft customers raise tickets, most of these tickets get routed to partners like us. I follow up on and assist customers when they have issues that relate to my area of expertise.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Azure AD is solid because of the way the product is designed and because the people who support it are very good.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Microsoft is a very big organization. Whenever they put products on the market, they take things like scalability into consideration. They make sure the life cycle of the product matches the demands and the usage of customers. This product should have a long life in the market.

How are customer service and support?

Microsoft technical support is great. Fantastic. Microsoft is looking to push the capabilities of its products, to enable customers to achieve more.

What other advice do I have?

In general, there has been improvement in the way the technology can be used by end-users. Their feedback has been taken into consideration and that has helped a great deal.

Azure AD has features that have been developed purely for the security of users. It has things like Conditional Access policies and MFA. But the nature of the support that I provide in Azure AD doesn't focus on security. While Azure AD gives a company a holistic way to manage user profiles, I don't usually work on security aspects. But I do know that, to a large extent, the solution is built using the latest security.

The provisioning service I support has authentication methods. There has been a push by Microsoft to move customers away from certain authentication mechanisms that are not very strong in terms of security, and to make sure that secure standards are being enforced. I have looked at integrations set up by customers where they have only done the basic minimum in terms of security. Microsoft had to push those customers towards a much more secure setup. So customers are getting better security.

Overall, the effect of the product on my customers' experience has been good. I generally come into the picture when customers are having an issue. Most customers I've interacted with don't understand some information or why the product is designed the way it is. When I explain that it has to be this way so that they can do what they need to do, the customer feedback comes in at about an eight out of 10.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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