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IT Infrastructure & Tech Support Manager at a energy/utilities company with 1,001-5,000 employees
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Top 5
Users can work at home or office and files are synchronized, with a single sign-on wherever they are
Pros and Cons
  • "Let's say we decide that our users need to have MFA, multi-factor authentication. It is very easy to implement that with Azure Active Directory."
  • "You can manage the users from the Office 365 administration center, and you can manage them from Azure Active Directory. Those are two different environments, but they do the same things. They can gather the features in one place, and it might be better if that place were Azure."

What is our primary use case?

We are a Microsoft-oriented company. All our main infrastructure for user systems and productivity, like Microsoft Office and email, are from Microsoft. So we use Microsoft products and we use Active Directory on-premises. We have also built a cloud infrastructure and we now have a completely hybrid architecture. As a result, it was mandatory to configure Azure Active Directory to synchronize with the on-premises Active Directory.

We have finished that project and now we use Azure Active Directory for users who are on the cloud.

How has it helped my organization?

Entra is very good for the organization because we now have many users, due to COVID, who are working from a distance. With Microsoft, we can give them the opportunity to download all the applications on their personal PCs, like Teams, OneDrive, et cetera. They have a single sign-on and they can log on from everywhere.

The solution has improved things a lot for our organization because it has improved productivity. One specific effect is that we used to use a lot of VPN access, but we have decreased that access by 80 percent because they don't need the VPN anymore. And productivity has also improved very much, because users can do their jobs from everywhere, even on their mobile phones, because they have their files on OneDrive. With Azure Active Directory, we don't have security issues thanks to the added security on the cloud, such as MFA and also Defender for Endpoint. 

But it's not only productivity tools that we have on Azure, we have other applications as well that we have set up for our users, like SAP. We have also diminished our telecom costs.

We have saved a lot of money, I'm very sure about that. We pay for the solution but because it is in the pricing agreement, we have more tools available and we don't have to buy more. I would estimate it has saved us more than 40 percent.

In addition, before, we had to work through all the horizontal firewalls and security sensors in the company. Now, we have separated the productivity tools like Word, Excel, OneDrive, and Teams. That means our users are very pleased with the user experience. They like using it. They can work from home or at the company and their files are synchronized. 

Overall, we feel our security has improved and we are confident.

What is most valuable?

I like the fact that I can manage the users, but it's also a security resource. Let's say we decide that our users need to have MFA - multi-factor authentication. It is very easy to implement that with Azure Active Directory.

What needs improvement?

What could be improved is the environment. It still has administration centers in Office 365, and the same is true for Azure in general. You can manage the users from the Office 365 administration center, and you can manage them from Azure Active Directory. Those are two different environments, but they do the same things. They can gather the features in one place, and it might be better if that place were Azure.

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Azure Active Directory (Azure AD)
February 2023
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For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Azure Active Directory for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is very good. We don't have incidents. The only issues we had were to do with synchronization that took some time between Active Directory on-prem and Azure Active Directory. But that might have had something to do with other issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is a 100-percent scalable solution and that is one of the reasons we chose it. 

We have installations on-premises, and people all over the country, including the islands, the north, and everywhere. Our users are in multiple locations. It's used across different departments with different applications and needs. At this moment, we have about 2,300 users.

How are customer service and support?

Microsoft's technical support needs to be improved. It's a bit bureaucratic, to put it in one word.  The procedure for opening a case is that someone sends you an email to give them all they need. I would like the technical support proceedings to be faster. Sometimes, my company doesn't have this time. We need to find a solution very quickly. 

How would you rate customer service and support?

Neutral

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

We used on-premises products like System Center Configuration Manager. We used Microsoft's products, but for on-prem administration, not on the cloud.

How was the initial setup?

Due to the fact that we have a hybrid architecture, not a clean cloud solution, it took us a lot of time. We had to consider how everything, all the applications, was going to work. Active Directory is also involved in emails and there were many procedures to consider and test. There were also many users who were staying on-prem. We also had to consider external cooperation with other European and domestic energy companies. So it took us about one year. Our company is not a simple company, like a sales company or a manufacturer. We deal with critical infrastructure and we have to control and operate the power for the whole country. We had to think about every step of the journey.

We had 10 to 12 people involved. I was the project manager and there were three groups of people, in addition. One was from telecom and security. There were a few people from infrastructure and technical support, and there were some people from the application side, to test that all our applications were active.

We also have teams for projects, like when we do a large construction for something like power lines. We form teams between departments and these special teams may work for a year on a specific project. We also needed to consider them because they have different needs and work from different places and are mobile.

Because we have on-premises firewalls in our company, we had to do some work before we implemented AAD to arrange access between the company's security system and the Microsoft cloud system so that they could cooperate and communicate. We had to open the protocols, et cetera. As a result, we don't have any problem with the consistency of our security policies.

In the beginning, it was a matter of getting used to the procedures. We needed to explain things to the users so we sent them a guide. We rolled it out to our 2,500 users in many batches over about four months.

There is periodical maintenance, such as upgrades, as well as ad hoc maintenance. For example, if we modify public folders, we need to do some work because, on one occasion, cloud users couldn't see a public folder that was on-premises.

What was our ROI?

We can see a return on the investment by comparing the prices we know from previous years. We don't use so many data centers now and we don't need as many installations and to pay as much rent.

Our return on investment is that the costs are very small, like one-tenth what they were, by going from owning on-premises data centers to what we have now. Over a period of five years, our return on investment is 100 percent. The money we pay for this contract is not much compared to the money you need for buildings, data centers, power, and technicians.

The price is also very good if you consider the money you save by not having to pay for many contracts with different companies to create a corporate solution. You pay one company, like Microsoft, and you have the whole solution. We have saved a lot of money by doing that. 

Of course, you need to give it time and in-house resources. People have to be trained. Otherwise, if you have many environments and many products that you don't know very well... 

Maybe using multiple companies is good. That's why we do use some other products, but not many.

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

The price is fair. It's not very expensive given what they offer. Of course, we did some negotiating with Microsoft. We didn't pay the list price. We have been a Microsoft customer for many years, so when the contract comes due every three years, we discuss it. Afterward, there are some discounts.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated Amazon and Google. We chose Microsoft mainly because it has the whole package, meaning it has the security, the applications, and the infrastructure, so it's a more holistic approach compared to the others. It's not that Google and Amazon don't offer something like that, but they need more time to improve because they were not on-premises companies.

Microsoft gives you the space, the data centers on the cloud, and backups; it gives you everything. From the others, something was always missing. Microsoft may not be perfect, but it has everything you need.

What other advice do I have?

It's a very good solution, an excellent solution. It's very stable and robust. You don't need to do a proof of concept unless you have a special case, like, for example, fleet management, and have a very specialized application.

We use Entra’s Conditional Access feature but we also use other tools from other vendors. From our experience so far, we haven't had problems. Entra seems robust enough. We haven't even had one incident of malware. Of course, we have added some more tools to our cloud infrastructure for the mail applications in the network. So although it's robust enough, because we're handling critical infrastructure, as a company we decided to have more tools.

We use Intune and Endpoint Manager. Any device that is connected, even if it is a personal device, needs to be registered via Intune. We do not accept non-registered devices. 

Azure Active Directory, and Azure in general, is a very big solution that we are developing further. It takes a lot of time, but by using it, we don't need so many other resources from outside companies. We can manage everything in-house. It takes a lot of time, but it's better than other options. It has more tools and better monitoring. Those extra tools mean more time spent on it by the administrators. But it has dashboards that they didn't have before. So the administration is easier and more centralized, but you need time with all these tools.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Solutions Owner at a manufacturing company with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Identity and access management help improve our security posture
Pros and Cons
  • "Many of its features are valuable, including: facilitating application authentication, privileged access management, processes for attestation, and access reviews."
  • "When it comes to identity governance, the governance features in Azure AD are very focused on Microsoft products. I would like to see those governance and life cycle management features offered for non-Microsoft products connected to Azure AD."

What is our primary use case?

We have users, groups, and applications, and the purpose of this product is authentication, authorization, and attestation. We use it for the services connected to those three "A"s. The use cases in all organizations are more or less the same, even if some side services differ. Azure AD is used for authentication and authorization. It's about managing identities and granting access to applications.

How has it helped my organization?

It has features that have definitely helped to improve our security posture. The identity and access management, at the end of the day, are about security. It also offers features like multi-factor authentication, Privileged Identity Management, and access review and attestation, and all of these are connected to security and typically help improve security posture.

What is most valuable?

Many of its features are valuable, including: 

  • facilitating application authentication 
  • privileged access management 
  • processes for attestation
  • access reviews.

The multi-factor authentication, similar to when you use your mobile banking application when you want to do a transaction, doesn't rely only on your username and password. It triggers a second factor, like an SMS to your mobile. It requires another factor for authentication. This is one of the standard services Microsoft offers with Azure AD Directory.

Privileged identity management is also a standard feature of Azure AD for privileged accounts. We make sure we do privileged role activation when it's needed so that we do not have sensitive roles active every day.

What needs improvement?

A lot of aspects can be improved and Microsoft is constantly improving it. If I compare Azure AD today with what it was like five years ago, or even three years ago, a lot of areas have been improved, and from different angles. There have been improvements that offer more security and there have been some improvements in the efficiency domain. Azure AD is not a small product. It's not, say, Acrobat Reader, where I could say, "Okay, if these two features are added, it will be a perfect product." Azure is a vast platform.

But if we look at multi-factor authentication, can it be improved? Yes. Perhaps it could cope with the newest authentication protocols or offer new methods for second or third factors.

I'm also willing to go towards passwordless authentication. I don't want anyone to have passwords. I want them to authenticate using other methods, like maybe biometrics via your fingerprint or your face or a gesture. These things, together with the smart card you have, could mean no more passwords. The trends are moving in that direction.

When it comes to identity governance, the governance features in Azure AD are very focused on Microsoft products. I would like to see those governance and life cycle management features offered for non-Microsoft products connected to Azure AD. Currently, those aspects are not covered. Microsoft has started to introduce Identity Governance tools in Azure AD, and I know they are improving on them. For me, this is one of the interesting areas to explore further—and I'm looking to see what more Microsoft offers. Once they improve these areas, organizations will start to utilize Microsoft more because, in that domain, Microsoft is a bit behind. Right now, we need third-party tools to complete the circle.

In addition, sometimes meeting the principle of least privilege is not easy because the roles are not very granular. That means that if you are an administrator you need to do small things connected to resetting passwords and updating certain attributes. Sometimes I have to grant access for the purposes of user management, but it includes more access than they need. Role granularity is something that can be improved, and they are improving it.

Again, if I compare Azure AD today to what it was like three years ago, there have been a lot of improvements in all these domains. But we could also pick any of these specific feature domains in Azure AD and have in-depth discussions about what could be improved, and how.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Azure Active Directory for more than five years.`

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Azure AD is very scalable. The only concern is around role-based access control limitations at the subscription level. That is something Microsoft is improving on. Currently, per subscription, you can have a maximum 2,000 role assignments. Sometimes big organizations hit the limit and need to implement workarounds to resolve that limitation. But that is something Microsoft has already confirmed it is improving. That is a limitation of the Azure platform, it's not specific to my organization. A smaller organization may never hit the limit, but bigger organizations do.

Apart from that, their application integrations, the service, MFA, and everything else, are quite scalable. It is moving in the right direction.

How was the initial setup?

Setting up Azure AD, is about moving toward the cloud journey. I cannot say setting up Azure AD is easy, but on the other hand, organizations are not moving to the cloud in one go. It's not all or nothing, that you have it or you don't have it. It depends on which services you are receiving from Azure AD. Some organizations, like ours, start with a limited number of services.

You usually start with syncing your identities to the cloud so that you can offer your employees certain cloud services. You want to enable them to use certain SaaS applications, where they are relying on a cloud identity, and that's why you need to have your accounts in the cloud. Without that, you cannot grant them access.

Later, you may offer the ability for business partners to use and benefit from certain cloud applications, and gradually the use cases increase. For example, someone may become a privileged user to take responsibility for an application and manage it. When that happens you start to think about what other features in the Azure platform you can offer to do administration in a more secure way. Or, once you have thousands of users benefiting from cloud applications, how can you make sure that you protect their assets and their data? That leads you to start implementing other security features, such as multi-factor authentication. Over time, you may have users benefiting from Office 365 and they need to collaborate by using Teams and SharePoint. Again, you start to build something else around that.

Whether large or small, organizations are on a journey, where they start from on-premises with servers and all these server rooms and applications in the organization. They then shift workloads to the cloud. That process is still ongoing in my organization and in many organizations. Ten years ago, workloads were all on-premises. Five years ago, maybe 90 percent were on-premises. Today it might be 50 percent cloud and 50 percent on-premises. There is value from the cloud: elasticity and flexibility, even for big organizations. A server on-premises is a different story compared to having it on the cloud. If I need to upgrade a server on the cloud, it takes five minutes. If it's on-premises, I need to order hardware and then change the hardware. The usage of Azure Active Directory is due to the evolution of the cloud.

The bottom line is that the implementation is gradual. It's not difficult or easy, although we started with things that were easy to adopt, and then we continued the journey.

The staff required for maintenance of Azure AD depends on how you organize your support. Some organizations outsource their end-user support to other companies, while other organizations staff that completely internally. It can also depend on the users. Is your organization a global organization or a small, local organization? For us, to make sure we maintain the support and availability and all the services we need, including change management, we need at least 15 to 20 resources for a global application with more than 20,000 users, to maintain the platform.

What about the implementation team?

We worked with a lot of consultants for Azure AD. There are many features and no one expert or professional can help with all aspects. Organizations, during their journeys, have to work with different partners and integrators. It may be that there is a specific application you need to integrate with Azure AD and you need some skills there. It may be that you want to better manage Azure resources, so you would talk to a different type of resource. You may want to increase your identity security scores, depending on how you configure Azure AD, and for that, you would need to talk to an Azure security expert. I think this applies to all big enterprises. We need different skills to better utilize Azure, including Azure AD, and to do processes in a more secure way.

We have Microsoft Professional Services. That's the primary source for many organizations that are utilizing Microsoft services. If you have an enterprise agreement or a unified agreement with Microsoft, they offer you consulting services. Of course, you have to pay for Professional Services, but we get value there. The number-one consulting and integration support provider is Microsoft.

They also work with certified partners like Accenture or Avanade. These organizations are connected with Microsoft and they offer consultancy services to enterprises like ours. Depending on the subject, we may use services from any of these providers. We usually go with Microsoft-certified partners.

What other advice do I have?

Multi-factor authentication means you need to do an extra step, but that is normal because the attack surface is wider. We want to make sure you are who you say you are. That extra step impacts the end-user experience, but it's needed. The way authentication happens today is far different from 10 years ago. It may result in some added difficulty, but it is there to protect employees, organizations, customers, business partners, IT assets, data, et cetera.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Buyer's Guide
Azure Active Directory (Azure AD)
February 2023
Learn what your peers think about Azure Active Directory (Azure AD). Get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions. Updated: February 2023.
672,411 professionals have used our research since 2012.
IT Manager at a renewables & environment company with 201-500 employees
Real User
Gives us tight control over who is using applications, and enables us to add, delete, and modify users in one place
Pros and Cons
  • "For some applications, it's not only working for authentication but it's also being used to apply roles for users. From the management perspective, it's much better to have this because in the past we constantly needed to go into the console of the different solutions and create or delete users or modify their roles and permissions. Now, with Azure Active Directory, we can do that from a single point. That makes our management model much easier."
  • "From time to time it takes a little bit of time to replicate, with some of the applications—something like five to 10 minutes. I know that the design is not supposed to enable real-time replication with some of the applications. But, as an administrator, I would like to run a specific change or modification in Azure Active Directory and see it replicated almost immediately."

What is our primary use case?

We have deployed an Active Directory model with Active Directory on-premises, and that is providing services to the entire organization. In 2018, we wanted to implement single sign-on with some of our cloud solution partners. That was the main reason that drove us to implement Azure Active Directory. As far as I know, that's the only thing that we use Azure Active Directory for at this moment.

We can call it a hybrid system. All our internal operations are using Active Directory on-premises, but when we need to identify some of our users with applications on the cloud, that's when we use Azure Active Directory.

We are a mid-size company with around 550 users end-users, with the same number of end-user machines. We also run somewhere between 120 and 150 servers.

How has it helped my organization?

The reason we implemented it is that we can use it for authentication with some of our service applications, and that makes users' lives easier. They do not need to learn a lot of different passwords and different usernames. The other benefit is that, on the management side, it's very easy because you can have tight control over who is using the application and who is not; who has permissions.

For some applications, it's not only working for authentication but it's also being used to apply roles for users. From the management perspective, it's much better to have this because in the past we constantly needed to go into the console of the different solutions and create or delete users or modify their roles and permissions. Now, with Azure Active Directory, we can do that from a single point. That makes our management model much easier.

As a result, the solution has helped to improve our security, because user management control is very important. In the past, there were times when, for some reason, we forgot about deleting or even creating users for certain applications. Now, because we have only a single point for those processes, there is better control of that and it reduces the risk of information security incidents. That's especially true when you consider the case where we had forgotten to delete some users due to the increasing number of applications in the cloud. We now have five or six applications using single sign-on and that capability is one of our requirements when we introduce a new solution. It has to be compliant with single sign-on and it should have a way to be implemented with Azure Active Directory. It makes our infrastructure more secure.

Among the applications we have that are using single sign-on are Office 365, Concur for expense control, we have an integration with LinkedIn, as well as two other applications. When a user decides to leave the organization, we check that their access to all our internal applications has been closed. That can be done now with a single script. It makes it very easy for us to delete the user from the organizational unit, or from where the group linked to the application.

It makes things a lot more comfortable in terms of security as we don't need to log in to every single application to delete users. We would see, in the past, when we would run a review on an application in the cloud, that suddenly there were, say, 10 users who shouldn't be there. They could still be using the service because we didn't delete them. For some applications it's not that bad, but for others it could be an open security risk because those users would still have access to assets of the organization. We have reduced, almost to zero, the occurrences of forgetting a user.

Azure AD has affected the end-user experience in a positive way because, as I mentioned, they do not need to learn different usernames and different passwords. In addition, when users request access to some of the applications, we just need to assign the user to the different groups we have. These groups have been integrated with the different cloud applications and that means they can have almost immediate access to the applications. It makes it easier for us to assign roles and access. From the user perspective that's good because once they request something they have access to the service in less than 15 minutes.

What is most valuable?

Implementation of single sign-on with other vendors is quite easy. It might take a couple of hours and everything is running.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using Azure Active Directory for over two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The availability of Azure AD is good. I don't have any complaints about it. Regarding the stability, we haven't had any issues with it. We haven't experienced any service interruption. 

Part of our strategy in the short-term is to move most of our Microsoft environment, when it's feasible, to the cloud, because we have seen that the cloud environment offered by Microsoft is really stable. We have proved that with tools like Azure Active Directory. In almost three years we haven't had a single issue with it.

From time to time it takes a little bit of time to replicate, with some of the applications—something like five to 10 minutes. I know that the design is not supposed to enable real-time replication with some of the applications. But, as an administrator, I would like to run a specific change or modification in Azure Active Directory and see it replicated almost immediately. It really only takes a few minutes. Although it doesn't seem to cause any problems for our organization, I would like to see more efficiency when it comes to the different connectors with cloud services.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had a situation where we need to scale this solution.

How are customer service and technical support?

We haven't had any major issue with the solution so we haven't called Microsoft technical support for Azure AD so far.

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

We have always used Active Directory as our dedicated services solution. Three years ago we increased the scope of it and synchronized it with Azure Active Directory. Our on-premises Active Directory is our primary solution. Azure Active Directory is an extension of that.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was quite straightforward. It didn't take too long just to get our Azure Active Directory environment set up and running. I think it took less than a day. It was really fast.

We already had Active Directory on-premises, so what we created was the instance of Azure Active Directory. All the different groups, users, and services were already set up. We then replicated with what we currently have in the Azure Active Directory instance. It was not really difficult.

Our company is quite small and that is reflected in our IT department. Azure Active Directory is handled by our infrastructure coordination team, which has only two members. One is the senior engineer who performs all the major changes and the main configurations. We also have a junior engineer who runs all the operations in the company. From time to time, one person from our help desk, usually me, does some small operations when we don't have the infrastructure team available.

What about the implementation team?

We use a reseller to buy the product and they also provide some consulting services. Our relationship with Microsoft is not a direct relationship.

Our reseller is SoftwareONE. They're a global company and our experience with them has been good. We have been with them since 2010 or 2011. We have two or three different services from them related to Microsoft and other brands. They are not exclusively reselling Microsoft licenses. 

What was our ROI?

From a very subjective point of view, as I haven't drawn any kind of numbers to calculate the return on investment, what I can see so far is that the investment is running smoothly and it's easier for us to run our environment with it.

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

If you have all your infrastructure built using Microsoft tools, it is straightforward to go with Azure Active Directory. Under these circumstances, I don't see any reason to find another solution.

We have an E3 contract, and I believe Azure AD is included in it.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We didn't evaluate other vendors because our entire environment is based on Microsoft solutions.

What other advice do I have?

As with any implementation, design is key. That would be applicable to Active Directory as well, but when it comes to Azure AD, do not start the installation unless you have an accepted design for it. You shouldn't just start creating objects on it. You need to have a clear strategy behind what you're going to do. That will save you a lot of headaches. If you start without any kind of design, at the end of the road, you can end up saying, "Okay, I think it would have been better to create this organizational unit," or, "We should have enabled this feature." It's probably not very straightforward to implement the changes. So have a team design the Azure Active Directory structure for you. You need to have the map before starting the implementation.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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IAM / IT Security Technical Consultant at a retailer with 10,001+ employees
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Managed identities mean that people don't have to wait for a long time for manual intervention when they raise a ticket
Pros and Cons
  • "Single sign-on provides flexibility and helps because users don't want to remember so many passwords when logging in. It's a major feature. Once you log in, you have access to all the applications. It also enables us to provide backend access controls to our users, especially when it comes to groups, as we are trying to normalize things."
  • "An area where there is room for improvement is the ease of use of the dashboards."

What is our primary use case?

When we are deploying cloud applications we avail ourselves of the services of Azure AD. At the moment, we are mostly getting the data from on-premises to the cloud, as far as user entities go. We're trying to define policies based upon the company's and our projects' requirements, such as whether we need to make something public or private. This all has to be defined. We also use it for access management.

How has it helped my organization?

We have protected the entire tenant itself, as a federation. AAD has also become a great source of research.

Previously there were many tenants and many subscriptions within each tenant. We have been able to separate Office 365 as a separate tenant and not welcome any other applications into that. We are only using SaaS with that tenant. Later, we had different tenants, and we welcomed all types of PaaS and IaaS.

Recently, managed identities came into the market, and we are trying to adhere to automations and customization, the automation of groups, which is a major advantage. That way, people don't have to wait for a long time for manual intervention. If they raise a ticket, within a few minutes the answer can be in their mailbox with all the details.

What is most valuable?

The features I normally use are for authentication and authorization.

Single sign-on provides flexibility and helps because users don't want to remember so many passwords when logging in. It's a major feature. Once you log in, you have access to all the applications. It also enables us to provide backend access controls to our users, especially when it comes to groups, as we are trying to normalize things.

For the end-users, they can seamlessly log in to their web products, like their Outlook account. They have YAML services and SharePoint services. Everything is single sign-on and that makes them happy.

What needs improvement?

An area where there is room for improvement is the ease of use of the dashboards.

Also, if a user is working in India, and we suddenly see a login from the US, Australia, or New Zealand, we should be alerted, because we wouldn't expect that application would be used by that user in those locations at that time.

An area for improvement is that there is so much dependence on on-premises databases, in the on-premises directory services.

In terms of features we would like to see, we don't have domain controllers in Azure AD. We are also looking at how we can best migrate users from on-premises to Azure AD, and how we can welcome B2B users. We would like to see improvement in the B2B functionality. We hope that is already in the roadmap. We'd also like to see some functionality for how we can set boundaries for tenants. We have multiple tenants that we're trying to consolidate. It's definitely going to be a big challenge to consolidate two tenants, so we're looking for help in that area.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Azure AD for the last three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

In terms of the solution's availability, I haven't seen anything negative. It's always available. There have been no issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I haven't seen any room for improving the scalability or performance. The capacity is good. We are managing about 5,000 users in Azure AD. We have an Ops team and there are about 10 people who maintain and manage users and groups for the production tenant. But in five months, with SaaS and PaaS services, that might go higher.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have had many discussions with tech support for Azure AD. We are trying to install read-only domain controllers or ODCs into the cloud platform. We have had many challenges with that in terms of the network side and the business requirements. Another issue we have spoken with them about is how to do automation of service principles and of groups.

Support has been great, but there is a little room for improvement. We have had to go through many iterations and we have had to wait for a long time until the next version of the solution comes out. Overall, we get good support, but their timelines could be better.

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

We were using Microsoft AD, on-premises. We are now syncing all the users who are in the on-premises version to Azure AD. We are not directly creating users in Azure AD because of the dependencies. Many legacy applications are talking to the on-premises directory services. When a user is created, we are sending that user from the on-premises to the cloud through Azure AD Connect.

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

We are using the Premium P2 licensing. 

To explore the solution, I had to create a personal version, because I can't play with the access that we get from the company. We explore those services in the personal version first, to see how it reacts.

From the company side, we haven't had issues because the licensing works well. But on a personal level, if I could enable more trial services, at least for a year, it would be much easier to explore and suggest the best solutions.

What other advice do I have?

It's an easy tool to explore if you have already worked with the on-premises data services. There is good documentation available on the Microsoft website. If Microsoft provided more time for new users to explore new features, that would help. Everyone could learn more and contribute more to their companies or to the projects that they're working on. But it is easy to learn.

Just be careful, because you are in the cloud. You have to be aware of access, AM, how the user is coming into their account, where the user is going and what the user actions are, and what access they have. Always try to enable single sign-on, so that if any fraudulent user comes into the picture, you can remove them as soon as possible. So enable those features for admin accounts and use privileged IT management, vaulting the password. You have to strictly follow the security standards, because it's open to the public when it is on the cloud. You have to be very careful about the project requirements, the end-user requirements, and what the business stakeholders need.

When we started with Azure AD, we didn't restrict much. Later, we restricted a few possibilities, such as users logging in with their social accounts, or email accounts like Yahoo accounts or Outlook. Initially it was open to all. Any user could invite a guest user and provide access, but later we restricted things with conditional management, and restricted users so that they could not connect to their Gmail accounts. We are coming up with more policies as well.

We have ongoing discussions with Microsoft Azure AD regarding how we can best protect our entities and what the behaviors should be. We have some more specific requirements in the company, related to project behavior. With IaaS, you have to welcome everyone. You have to put virtual machines in the cloud. You can use the password services and develop custom APIs and deploy them. 

We are trying to define our security policies as much as we can, as we are seeing many changes in the market and are trying to restrict as much as we can. Only users who are least privileged can have an all-access. The most privileged will have additional authentication. We're trying to differentiate.

We have to be very careful about the administrative part, so that operations can easily manage without any hassle. Because we don't have natural restrictions, we are trying to implement our own rules.

As we are moving to the cloud, we have to be very careful when it comes to Azure Active Directory. If there is a mistake and a random user can log in to the directory, they could have access to everything. A user should not have access to whatever he wants, so setting up the right level of authentication and authorization is important. Use IAM very effectively. Identity and access management is a powerful space where one has to be very careful in choosing and configuring policies and standard procedures. We're trying to define that and be careful when with all platforms, whether IaaS, SaaS, or PaaS. At the moment it's going well.

We are merging many things in the tenant. Before, we only had SaaS. We are trying to welcome PaaS and IaaS to use the same production tenant. We have to exercise caution for everyone, all the individual policies, groups, and service principles. We have to enable all the features that you are capable of, such as user sign-in permissions, and application sign-ins. That has to be continuously monitored.

We have a good rapport with Microsoft. We have good support. We'll be exploring all the new services, like the managed entities and their other services that have come up. We are trying our best to explore and use the latest features that are available.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
Sachin Vinay - PeerSpot reviewer
Network Administrator at Amrita
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Saves us money because we don't need to pay for the resources required to operate the same solution on-premises
Pros and Cons
  • "Azure Active Directory's single sign-on feature has been helpful because users don't need to authenticate again and again each time they access it. Users only need to sign in the first time, and Azure handles everything. We haven't experienced any errors or security-related issues in the past four years. Many people use our protection servers from outside, requiring multi-factor authentication. Each authentication is logged precisely."
  • "Microsoft services and most familiar third-party applications are currently supported, but we can't find many other platforms that integrate with Office 365 or Azure Active Directory. Microsoft should develop connectors for different applications and collaborate more with other vendors to cover a broader range of applications."

What is our primary use case?

We are a university using Azure AD to authenticate staff, faculty, and students. Our organization completely depends on Azure Active Directory for authentication and identity-related features. All cloud activities and third-party services are validated with Azure Active Directory.

We also have an on-premises Active Directory, and the data is synced periodically to the cloud. Most of the services done on-premises are reflected in the cloud at once. We can also do the same handling features from the cloud to write back to the on-premises AD. This is the architecture.

How has it helped my organization?

We are implementing more and more services in the cloud on Azure and AWS, so we need to monitor our data security thoroughly. It's always a concern. Azure Active Directory enables us to easily validate the identity of anyone who connects to a particular server. We need to validate our data properly. For example, we must ensure our research data is going to the right person and place. Microsoft Azure Active Directory provides the easiest way to do that.

The Conditional Access feature lets us restrict access to a group of people on specific servers. We create a group in the Azure Active Directory and put only the necessary members there. For example, we can easily set up conditional access to SSH, Telnet, SSH, HTTPS, or any service with Azure Active Directory. 

We plan to implement Zero Trust in many of our other devices. It is an essential feature because users from multiple countries are accessing our research servers. We can provide a highly secure environment with minimum services without compromising productivity with a Zero Trust strategy.

We have wireless units deployed across the campus and use Microsoft AD services to authenticate all wireless activities. Many of the use cases are covered by wireless. After authentication, some users need to be redirected to the cloud. Their identities can be easily validated and captured with Microsoft AD. It gives us excellent control over our on-premise infrastructure.

Verified ID has helped us with our remote workforce. We provide VPNs to our remote employees so they can connect to our cloud services, authenticate with Azure, and be granted the necessary access. We provide policies for each user basis. Users in each category connect to the VPN, authenticate with their Azure credentials, and securely access all the cloud services.

We give provisioned laptops to our remote employees. With the help of this VPN, they spend less time coming to work in person because they have full-time access from home. So that way, we could reduce most of our official requirements concerning our employees. 

Privacy is a crucial security concern for our organization. With Verified ID, we can ideally authenticate Microsoft services without worrying about compromised identities. We used to have these issues with on-premise Active Directory, but this is less of a problem since we migrated to Azure Active Directory.

Our HR department can easily get a complete report on our users. HR can see specific fields, like designation, school, businesses, etc., if they need it from the Azure AD. They can also get the usage logs. They don't need to store all this manually for each person. They can easily get all the reporting parameters from this.

Azure AD saves us a lot of time. On any given day, it will save around four hours. It also saves us money because we don't need to pay for the resources required to have Active Directory on-premises. If we relied on on-premises Active Directory, it would require data center resources, like air-conditioning, power,  hardware, etc. We save considerable money by deploying it on the cloud. Percentage-wise, I think we could save around 40 percent. 

Azure Active Directory has improved our overall user experience. I would rate it a nine out of ten. Our users are delighted.

What is most valuable?

Azure Active Directory's single sign-on feature has been helpful because users don't need to authenticate again and again each time they access it. Users only need to sign in the first time, and Azure handles everything. We haven't experienced any errors or security-related issues in the past four years. Many people use our protection servers from outside, requiring multi-factor authentication. Each authentication is logged precisely.

In addition to the SSO, Azure AD is entirely flexible. We have other Microsoft services running on-premises, so Microsoft Azure AD allows us to sync other Microsoft services completely. This is perfect for us.

Microsoft Entra offers a single pane of glass for managing users and cloud services on multiple platforms. It all requires authentication and validation of user data, so Azure AD helps us to authenticate each user's identity without any security compromises. 

Microsoft has an excellent administration portal that enables us to sync our on-premise Active Directory automatically with the cloud. Any on-premise policy changes are reflected on the cloud. There are various options for each user on the admin portal. You can change user passwords and other attributes or configure a policy for forgotten passwords. A writeback feature can also reflect changes from the cloud to the on-premise environment. If you change the password from the cloud admin center, it gets reflected here.

Microsoft Azure AD Connect has a multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication is a crucial feature, but we only require MFA for specific servers in the cloud. With Microsoft Azure AD Connect, we can specify the users and servers that require multi-factor authentication.

Azure Active Directory integrates well with other third-party applications. Third-party hosted solutions have the option. We can even create applications with Microsoft Azure AD. When users log in to Microsoft Azure AD, their credentials are stored in the application, and we don't need to get them on-premise Active Directory. So, it is an essential feature for us.

What needs improvement?

Microsoft services and most familiar third-party applications are currently supported, but we can't find many other platforms that integrate with Office 365 or Azure Active Directory. Microsoft should develop connectors for different applications and collaborate more with other vendors to cover a broader range of applications.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Azure Active Directory for four years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Microsoft services have a reputation for complete reliability, so we expect the same from Microsoft Azure AD. It doesn't disappoint because most of the on-premise features extend to the cloud. Plus, Microsoft Azure AD has additional features, configuration, and single sign-on capabilities. It's a complete package for this authentication and validation purpose. Most of our users are pretty happy with this product.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Azure AD is completely scalable. We can add unlimited users.

How are customer service and support?

I rate Microsoft's support a ten out of ten. Microsoft technical support is excellent

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

Previously, we have used on-premise Active Directory.

How was the initial setup?

Setting up Azure Active Directory was a bit complex. The migration process is somewhat challenging because we don't want to lose any on-premise data. Each user has many parameters and access policies already set. Without even changing the password, we were able to sync all this data to Microsoft Azure AD. It was a complex procedure because Azure AD Connect has to be deployed correctly. We required help from Microsoft's technical support to do this.

Our initial deployment required three system admins and took around one week, but it took around six months to import all our users and get everything working properly. After deployment, Azure AD doesn't require any maintenance because everything happens in the cloud. We don't need to bother with anything.

What was our ROI?

The return on investment is pretty massive. We save time and money. It helps us even if we opt for a subscription. We save a considerable amount of time with the cloud version because it has various features unavailable in the on-premises Active Directory that save time for the system administrators. We can concentrate resources on hiring other staff instead of system administrators. All the features are within the cloud itself, so it reduces the maintenance costs of an on-premise server. 

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

Active Directory is bundled with a package of Microsoft services, so it doesn't cost much. I don't know about the individual license of Active Directory. 

What other advice do I have?

I rate Azure Active Directory a ten out of ten. I would prefer Azure AD to have multiple application scenarios requiring a single sign-on facility and complete authentication, validation, and security tracking. 

If they require it in their application, even if it is an on-premise or a host application, I would prefer Microsoft Azure AD because it handles all this simultaneously. No other application covers a complete range of activities in an all-in-one solution. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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PeerSpot user
Computer engineering student at a educational organization with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 5
Good functionality for role and access definition, with helpful support material available online
Pros and Cons
  • "As an end-user, the access to shared resources that I get from using this product is very helpful."
  • "The most challenging aspect I found was the creation of organizational units and specific domains. They have a tool called Bastion, which is expensive and a little bit confusing."

What is our primary use case?

I'm a computer engineering student in Portugal, and we used it during one of our classes for practically the whole semester. We used both the on-premise solution and the Azure, online one.

While we were learning, we used it primarily for user access management and also to define rules for the organization. For example, we created organizational units and defined domains for enterprise-level organizations. I was able to specify access to, for example, certain folders, including shared folders and shared resources.

We were using it in conjunction with SQL Server 2019.

How has it helped my organization?

Azure Active Directory works well to access the resources that the school has set up for the students. We can share between our groups, and we can set up shared assignments or shared project folders very quickly and easily.

We have access to shared storage space, which is great. It is managed through Azure Active Directory and appears to me as a Microsoft OneDrive account.

As an end-user, the access to shared resources that I get from using this product is very helpful. I also use it for my email, which is a domain that is part of the organization. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the ability to define certain roles for the users and to give access to shared resources.

The options for user access management on the cloud are similar to those with the on-premises deployment. You can work directly on the cloud but control it from your on-premises server if you want, or you can make all of the changes directly on Azure.

One of the security features that Azure Active Directory provides is that it warns users about the usage of weak passwords. When we created user accounts and their passwords, it warned us about weak passwords and gave us the option to define password creation rules. We tested the feature and tried using invalid passwords, and it blocked access to the organizational units accordingly. We did not work with the more advanced security features within the scope of the course.

It has some good monitoring options that you can use to see how well it is working. In my class, we were able to see which users were accessing the solution, and what went wrong with the tests that we were doing.

What needs improvement?

The most challenging aspect I found was the creation of organizational units and specific domains. They have a tool called Bastion, which is expensive and a little bit confusing. I had to cancel the subscription because it was using my credits too quickly. For the students, it was not a very cheap way to learn it.

It would be helpful if they provided more credits for students who are performing test cases because we had to be really careful when we were using it. Making it cheaper for students would be great.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Azure Active Directory for one school semester.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Because we weren't using it on a large scale, it is difficult to estimate how good the stability is. That said, it worked fine for the small number of users that we had. Although it was not a good test, I think that it worked fine. It does have some good monitoring options, so we could watch the performance.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I do not have large-scale experience with this product, as I was using it for practice during my degree program. I don't know at this point whether I will be using it in the future.

In my class, there were half a dozen or fewer users.

In order for the solution to be scalable, it requires some upfront work. You have to well define the users, profiles, and roles that you want to have at your organization. We were already given some advice on that from our teachers, including which roles we should create and so forth. Once you have that done, I think it's pretty straightforward. You just have to add them through the interface that the solution has, and it's not very difficult to do.

How are customer service and technical support?

I did not have to contact Microsoft technical support.

Our teachers explained what it was that they wanted us to implement and we were left to figure out how to accomplish the tasks on our own. When problems arose, I used Google to search for answers online. I also watched YouTube videos that included explanations and step-by-step tutorials.

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

Another solution that we learned about was the Apache Web Server. You can do the same things that you do with Azure, but it's more complex. You have to know a little bit more about Linux and you have to do it more manually.

In Azure Active Directory, there are already some default options available. That worked for us. It's easier for someone who doesn't want to have the headaches of understanding some of the more minor details.

How was the initial setup?

For the initial setup, we mainly followed the tutorials that Microsoft has online. Initially, it was a little bit confusing because we discovered that there are many different versions of this same software. There are distinctions between an on-premise way of doing things versus a hybrid approach versus something that is on the cloud exclusively. There are limitations that each one of them has, as well as other differences that include mobile versus desktop solutions.

For a newbie like me, it was a little bit challenging to understand what the best approach would be. In this case, we were oriented by the teachers to implement the hybrid approach. When we were configuring Azure Active Directory for this, and also for the organizational units, we used the Bastion service. It is the one that creates the domains.

The deployment took perhaps half a day to complete the configuration, step by step. We had to make corrections between configurations, where we had made errors, which was part of the learning process. Overall, when you really know what it is that you have to do, it's pretty straightforward and quick to complete. Otherwise, it will take you a little bit longer.

From the documents that Microsoft has available, we understood that there are several ways to deploy this solution. There is an on-premises version, a cloud-based SaaS, and a hybrid option. 

We were using virtual machines with a license that was connected to our educational package. We have a product key, install it locally on the virtual machine, and that's how we worked with it. At that point, it was connected to the cloud.

Our Azure accounts are related to our college email address, and they are also administered by Active Directory.

What about the implementation team?

We deployed it ourselves. With our small group and for the length of time that we used it, we did not perform any maintenance and I don't know how it is normally done on a day-to-day basis. Based on what I have learned, I think that one or two people are sufficient for maintenance if they know the product from head to toe.

What was our ROI?

Based on my experience, it would be difficult to estimate how long it would take to earn your investment back.

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

As this was being used in an academic setting, we were using the educational package. Azure has an educational package available for students with a variety of licenses and different software available. One of the applications included with this is the Azure SQL Server.

Each of the student accounts had an opening balance of $100 USD in credits. We used that to implement the solution and the code doesn't change if you are a student or a normal organization. Some of the things that we wanted to do were blocked by the organization, so we had to use our personal accounts. When we used our credits in this way, it was not specifically for students but for anybody who uses the service.

These credits are used on a pay-per-use basis and the price depends on the features that you use. The most expensive one that was relevant to our use case was Bastion, which allowed us to create and configure virtual subnets. Our use case required us to use it to connect our on-premises Windows Server with the cloud AD.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody who is implementing Azure AD is to study the basics. Get to learn how this access management solution works. We used Microsoft Learn and YouTube videos to assist us with doing so.

In summary, this is a complete solution for any company, but it requires some time and practice.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

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: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
PeerSpot user
ManojNair2 - PeerSpot reviewer
Director at Augesys Solutions Pvt Ltd
Real User
Top 5Leaderboard
Azure AD helps us achieve ISO compliance, but features that are standard in server version require add-ons
Pros and Cons
  • "We use BitLocker for policy enforcement. And now, because of the Microsoft 365 Business Premium package, we get Intune as a part of it. That's very useful for us for setting policies and managing the systems. The biggest strength of Azure AD is Intune."

    What is our primary use case?

    We use it because we have to onboard our user laptops to our Windows domain. Azure AD provides us with the Windows domain capability.

    How has it helped my organization?

    As an organization, we are going for ISO 27001 compliance. The only way to achieve much of that was to have Azure AD in place. Once Azure was in place, many things, like bringing all our laptops into the domain, and ensuring centralized policy deployment, were taken care of and that is where Azure AD has come in handy.

    What is most valuable?

    We use BitLocker for policy enforcement. And now, because of the Microsoft 365 Business Premium package, we get Intune as a part of it. That's very useful for us for setting policies and managing the systems. The biggest strength of Azure AD is Intune. As a user, I rarely go into Azure AD. I would rather go to Intune and work from there.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I've been using Azure Active Directory for the last few years. Since 2020, I've been using it extensively because, where I'm working, we're totally on Azure AD.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    There is nothing to be worried about when it comes to stability. It's a cloud product.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We are not worried about scalability because it's a cloud system. It will run and they will scale it. They already have packages wherein you can scale it depending on how many users you have in your system.

    Our usage of Azure AD will continue, going forward, as an organization. We are not going to pull back on it. It's only a question of what more we can extract out of it as we go along.

    How are customer service and support?

    Technical support varies. The problem is that Microsoft has contracted out support to multiple organizations around the world. When you raise a ticket, you may or may not get support from someone in your country or region. That's "Part I". 

    "Part II" is that when you get to a support agent, they go by the playbook. While they do a lot of R&D for us when we give them the problem in detail, and they actually find things out and come back to us, they're not willing to go beyond the established guidelines to try to troubleshoot. They will only do so if it becomes a pain-in-the-neck issue and multiple users are reporting that problem. For example I found an issue with Defender and I raised a ticket with the Defender team. That has now been pushed to some sort of a feature update, so things like that do happen.

    How would you rate customer service and support?

    Positive

    How was the initial setup?

    The initial setup is straightforward. There is nothing very complicated about it.

    The very basic setup of AD might take between 10 minutes and half an hour. Then, if you sit down and focus on the task, it takes about a couple of days to have all your nodes in place.

    In our company, there is another person who is my immediate junior and who reports to me. We are the ones who deploy, use, and maintain the system.

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

    We are using the version that comes with Microsoft 365 Business Premium.

    Microsoft has a very weird way of licensing the product. With the standard on-prem edition, we can do a lot of regular, day-to-day maintenance, including creating policies and the like. We can't do that in Azure Active Directory. The Azure system is very basic in nature compared to what the server provides us.

    There are add-on components and services, such as identity services, that we have to add to our Azure subscription. Only then can I actually say it's on par with the on-prem server edition.

    Why should I pay for a component? It should be included in my subscription. I understand there may be an added fee, but don't remove an essential component. I am a career IT guy. When I start comparing my on-prem server against this cloud edition, I see that there are components missing. The money issue is secondary. Give me a solution that matches the Azure standard edition. They should ensure that whatever I have on my domain controller are the facilities that run here in Azure AD. For example, on the domain controller, if you are my user, I can let you create a 14-character or a 20-character password. I can't do that on Azure AD. To do that, I must get the Directory Services module, which costs me another $100 a month. Let that cost be added to the bill and let me create my configurations as and how I want. Why do they want to restrict me? It's a detrimental business practice.

    Still, I say go for it. Don't worry about the pricing. Licensing, at the basic level, is sensible. But you should actively talk to your reseller about the needs of your organization. Costs will vary as you dig deeper into understanding what product or service you need. Independent of your geographic location, talk to a local Microsoft partner and understand the cost. Don't simply go online and order things. I would stress that to anybody in the world, whatever the size of their organization.

    The pricing module is pretty straightforward for many of the products. They have a price for up to 300 users for many of the licensed products. Up to 300 users is not considered an enterprise business.

    What other advice do I have?

    You may have knowledge about the product, but when you talk to somebody else you get a slightly different perspective. Exercise that principle. Talk to one or two vendors, but talk. Spend time on the call. Understand what you want. One person might give you an idea of how you can deploy with your existing products, while another guy might say those products have these weaknesses and these strengths.

    From the organizational perspective, it's not the native Azure AD components that provide value to the customer, it's more the other components. If you're a Microsoft 365 Business Premium customer, you get Microsoft 365 Defender. Along with that package, you get something called Secure Score for your organization. The beauty of Secure Score is that it gives you something of a benchmark. It says X percentage of organizations have this particular level of security score and it tells you how you can upgrade your security. It may tell you to enable something or disable a feature. After about a day's time, during which the change percolates across the organization, your security posture goes up a notch. That's a very useful tool for any organization, whatever the size.

    The end-user experience is better because we don't have to have so many components on board, compared to other solutions, to do something. For example, even though Defender is a limited version in some critical aspects, it still does its job pretty well. One major benefit of having it is that we can control the policies of Defender from the Intune portal or the Microsoft 365 Defender system because it's backed by Azure AD. Azure AD plays a kind of backend role. 

    It doesn't play much of a front-end role wherein I can create a policy. If I have to create a GPO, I must get the Directory Services component. Without that, I cannot create a GPO the way I would with the ordinary service. That's a critical difference. And with Microsoft, as usual, until you go digging around, you'll never know about this. I raised support queries with Microsoft and followed up with the tech support, after which I was informed that until I have Directory Services I can't do anything. This kind of clarity is not provided to the customer. Microsoft's website is really weak when it comes to providing specific details.

    I would tell any organization that doesn't have Azure Active Directory today not to spend money on setting up a server and a data center and infrastructure. Simply upgrade your Office subscription, because it eventually happens. The world is divided into two major parts: Microsoft users and Google users, and there may be some percentage that doesn't use either product. If you're using these products and looking at ISO compliance, simply upgrade to Microsoft 365 Business Premium. You'll get Azure AD and then you can go about the rest of your work.

    Overall, I rate Azure AD at seven out of 10. There is a huge difference in the capabilities between the on-prem server and the Azure version.

    Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

    Private 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.
    Flag as inappropriate
    PeerSpot user
    Director of Engineering, Integrations at a computer software company with 11-50 employees
    Real User
    Register external apps to any app within the Microsoft catalog, a great authentication platform, and a stable solution
    Pros and Cons
    • "The most valuable feature is the authentication platform."
    • "I think the solution can improve by making the consumption of that data easier for our customers."

    What is our primary use case?

    The primary use case is as an authentication mechanism or platform for the ISV solution that we offer our customers. When they are authenticating to our application, Azure AD is the solution on the backend the customers are actually using.

    I'm a software developer so I write a bunch of integrations between applications and one of them is Azure AD. Our organization itself uses Azure AD for our external solution, which we provide as the authentication mechanism.

    What is most valuable?

    The most valuable feature is the authentication platform. Whether that's for users authenticating to applications or for actual applications that we write, authenticating to Microsoft or other applications. We can do app registrations where we're doing client-side or client credential flow authentication from an external app to a hosted Microsoft app or whatever other app within the Microsoft catalog we want to connect to. The focus area has been around being able to integrate and connect to different Microsoft resources using Azure AD to actually provide the authentication piece.

    What needs improvement?

    There are a lot of areas where the data from a reporting standpoint is extremely granular. It is great that you're able to get to that data at the same time unless you actually are hands-on with the tool, as it can sometimes be overwhelming to actually be able to decipher what that means. So if you're looking at audit reports or another sort of logging, the amount of information is never the problem within Azure AD, it's trying to distill it down to the information that you want. I think the solution can improve by making the consumption of that data easier for the customers.

    For how long have I used the solution?

    I've been working with the solution for five or six years at least. Probably longer. 

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    The stability is very good. I think it's gone down only a couple of times and when it goes down, there are bigger problems than just us. From my perspective, it is fairly stable.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    I think the ease at which you can create new resources and the like from an overarching Azure perspective is phenomenal. I believe Azure AD is scalable. There are some pieces of it that are difficult to use. When assigning layered groups or layered roles to users, trying to figure out the access that a user has can sometimes be a little tricky. But overall I think it follows the Azure model, so it's easy to deploy new pieces as needed.

    We have a little over a hundred total users. Azure AD is only accessed by a couple of people within our organization, and they're all based out of our home office in the US. The authentication mechanism is used around the world. We have offices around the US and in Europe that all sign in using Azure AD as the authentication piece. We have 250-ish groups and just over a hundred users.

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

    Previously we used on-prem ADFS. At our organization, we integrate with a whole host of different identity providers; Ping, Okta, and those types, but we've always used a Microsoft product internally for our user setup and access. We switched to Azure AD because our product is also hosted within Azure. As part of that, we actually also switched to a hybrid cloud where we run both on-prem AD and Azure AD online.

    How was the initial setup?

    There were a couple of hiccups along the way, but the initial setup was fairly straightforward.

    The biggest issue for us was getting the sync working from on-prem to the cloud. That was the hardest part. As far as the deployment itself, we went and created an Azure tenant and then created the Azure AD or a portion of it. After that, setting up the sync was really the biggest part.

    What about the implementation team?

    The implementation was completed in-house, and we integrate it from our product perspective.

    What was our ROI?

    Azure AD makes our work a lot easier, but I don't have an actual number to show an ROI.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We're a Microsoft shop, so it basically was the only option that we really had if we wanted to use Azure. Our services host Azure so it made sense for us to use Azure AD.

    What other advice do I have?

    I give the solution a nine out of ten.

    We actually integrate with Microsoft Entra and are able to add additional functionality to it. Entra does everything down to the entitlement level within applications, whereas our organization would go a little bit further and go to the object level. But from an overall user access perspective within our cloud environment, Microsoft Entra does give us visibility into what that user's assigned, based on their roles and group access.

    We don't use Microsoft Entra in the way that most other companies are going to use it. We're looking at it from a strategic perspective for the security reporting application that we provide our customers. When a customer of ours would be using Microsoft Entra and they want to extend it to provide additional reporting or to actually go down and assign functions at the object level within their applications, they would use our organization to do that. I don't technically use Microsoft Entra to actually view what our users are looking at from a user access perspective.

    I don't know if we use it internally at our organization, but in the majority of cases, the clients want to be able to have a place where they can do enterprise-wide identity management. And so that's what they are trying to get to with Entra. That's a question that a lot of our customers have across the board. The functionality that Entra provides is the ability to span across different either business applications or other third-party applications. The customer then has to be able to do identity-based access control from a single-pane-of-glass within our Azure AD instance.

    I don't do the actual assignment within our organization from an Azure AD perspective. We extend what Microsoft Entra provides, from a feature functionality perspective. We have a separate IT team that would actually do the user creation and access assignment within Azure AD and I don't know if they use Microsoft Entra to manage all identity and access tasks within the organization.

    We're a Microsoft ISV and we connect with a number of different ERP, CRM, and HDM-type systems, but we do security on compliance reporting and functionality.

    We integrate with the solution. Customers that are using Entra, would or could use our organization when they need that extra level of detail. We use it for development purposes to actually create a working solution. We support that as far as when we do our reporting from our organizational perspective. I don't use Entra internally at our organization, so we integrate with it from a coding perspective. As far as features and functionality go, we integrate with it and we support it. 

    We run the solution on-prem and then we sync that to Azure AD in the cloud, but it's on a normal public cloud, overall.

    I think Azure AD is a no-brainer if you're a Microsoft shop and if you have other Microsoft products already. It boils down to what sort of office you're looking for. Being a development shop, it absolutely made sense to us to use Azure AD because we were already using Azure, so it could be included with that offering. If you're not a technical shop then I think you should have to look to see if it's something that you are going to manage, and how many other applications you manage within your organization from an access perspective. If you're doing that across 25, 50, or 100 different applications, then Azure AD is a great choice. If you don't really sign into too many things, then there may be more cost-effective ways out there. It depends on what your use case is.

    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: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner
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    Updated: February 2023
    Buyer's Guide
    Download our free Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) Report and get advice and tips from experienced pros sharing their opinions.