An introduction to Azure Active Directory

For those looking to manage and create users across a business’ entire spread of cloud-based applications, the Azure Active Directory (AAD) looks like an appealing choice. It’s a cost effective and easy to use option for IT Admins to enable single sign-on access for both business partners and the workforce to a very wide range of software as a service applications (SaaS).

Why is AAD useful?

There has been a significant change in the way that many organisations now do business and this has been driven in large part by the explosion in SaaS applications. Integrating software as a managed service that comes via the cloud has numerous benefits for businesses, from increased efficiency and security, to the costs that can be reduced by removing the need for an extensive in-house IT team and infrastructure. With this growth in SaaS has come the need for identity management – i.e. the creation and management of users (“identities”) right across the range of SaaS that the business is using. AAD is an effective solution to identity management and also ensures that information is synchronised across what could be a wide range of systems from which it is being sourced.

What does AAD offer

The AAD has been designed as a comprehensive solution to identity management with a wide range of different features that are intended to deliver a broad spectrum of improvements. These improvements could be better security, reduced costs, making it easier and simpler to reach compliance goals or creating better and more streamlined IT systems. The suite of identity management tools that is contained within AAD includes:

  • Self-service group management
  • A user-customisable SSO Portal
  • Mobile SSO
  • Self-service password management
  • Secure, multi-factor authentication
  • Device management
  • Application usage monitoring
  • Multiple directory integration
  • Third party MDM integration

AAD also helps businesses to significantly improve service and security thanks to features such as security monitoring and alerting. Plus, for those organisations that have already made some investment into on-premise identity management, this can be leveraged, as Azure AD is easily integrated with an existing Windows Server Active Directory. In short, AAD enables better management of access to cloud based SaaS applications right across the board.

AAD as a product

AAD is probably one of the most reliable products on the market – which it needs to be with so much critical access and data at stake. It is run out of 28 data centers that are positioned in locations around the world and a number of provisions have been put in place to ensure ongoing access and security for users. For example, AAD has automated failover, which means that even if one of those 28 data centers fails two more within the region have copies of your data.

If you’d like to know more about AAD – or about identity management solutions in general and how they can deliver a wide range of benefits for businesses using SaaS applications please get in touch with help4IT today.

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