The workplace of the future comes from the cloud – but not only from there. People who use Microsoft Office for business need to be able to do so in both online cloud mode and in (disconnected) local mode. But the user must be recognized accordingly in both modes – locally and when working in the public cloud.
In contrast to consumer applications, companies cannot rely solely on a public cloud solution for identity management. In the home network, we can use the central Microsoft services for this with a clear conscience. In the enterprise domain, however, we usually need a separate Active Directory for identity management.
Or, to put it metaphorically: agile workplaces from the public cloud are like high-performance race cars, with all the bells and whistles, but unfortunately without seat belts – and locks that can be picked with a paperclip are optional. Apropos: did Marty McFly always have a car key with him?
And now the crucial question: where is the Active Directory stored?
Microsoft offers Cloud Identity, an identity management solution for users who want to use Office 365 and don’t have a local Active Directory. The advantage: no need for administration or infrastructure on the user’s end. The simplicity of the cloud beckons. The user accounts are managed exclusively in an Azure Active Directory. And it is hosted by Microsoft – as are the passwords. For users, this means goodbye single sign-on. But the lack of control over password policies and user administration means this isn’t a good fit for every company.
The next step involves using synchronized identities. To enable it, the Office 365 user needs a separate Active Directory – which means they’re already entering the hybrid world at this low level. Because the user can run this Active Directory at home or, alternatively, in a private cloud run by another trusted provider. Of course, this Active Directory must be continually synchronized with Microsoft’s. This is done using Azure AD Connect, which copies the password hashes and other credentials to the cloud.