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Beyond Office 365 – How Microsoft Azure AD Unlocks the Cloud for Enterprises

18 August 2015

It’s hardly a revelation, but more and more businesses are moving their systems to the cloud. Office 365 is often an appealing first step of this transistion – familiar applications, available from the office or on the go, on desktop, mobile and tablet. So what about directory service software?

Active Directory is used by millions of businesses, but many are yet to migrate to the cloud. Azure Active Directory (AD) is Microsoft’s cloud-based version of Active Directory and it bestows a number of benefits. If you’re using Office 365, you’re actually using Azure AD already – it runs an Azure AD tenant to administer user authentication in a fully cloud enabled environment. But migrating Active Directory to the cloud provides direct access to other dynamic Azure AD services.

Here’s why Azure AD is the logical evolution of your enterprise’s directory service systems.

Secure remote access to your network

Employees work away from their desks on all kinds of devices, so they need to access your systems on the go, securely. Azure AD achieves this by enabling access control of the entire Azure portfolio, including the cloud, virtual machines and SQL databases.

Through the Azure AD Application Proxy, applications can be published to users outside of your private network so they can logon from home on their own, network-known devices.

Conditional information access governs the resources that can be accessed from different devices, and should a device be lost, stolen or non-compliant with policies, it can be locked out from network resources.

Connect to thousands of applications

Azure AD is pre-integrated with thousands of leading third party SaaS applications, removing difficult single sign-on configurations on your part. The list of applications includes CRM software such as Salesforce, tools such as Dropbox and Google Apps, over a hundred social applications and of course Office 365.

Even if an application isn’t on the list, you can add a custom application without complication. With this feature, you can easily centralise, manage and provision logon credentials for the business critical applications that you rely on.

High reliability and reduced risk

The reliability and security that Microsoft can ensure is impossible for the majority of enterprises to replicate in-house. By moving your directory data to the cloud, you benefit from automated failover from Microsoft’s 28 data centres around the world. This eliminates the costly risk of hardware or software failure at your premises, which could cause severe disruption to your organisation’s operations.

A painless migration

One of the big obstacles that prevents businesses from moving to the cloud is the complexity of the migration – reconnecting network entities, rebuilding users and access rights. It’s of course paramount that this is done smoothly to avoid issues that would affect the whole company.

Migrating from Active Directory to Azure AD completely cuts out this complicated process. With just four clicks, organisations can integrate Azure AD with their existing, on premise Active Directory, meaning all existing identity settings can be transferred. This allows for a smooth migration of your directory data to the cloud, where you can unlock a range of benefits.

However, while much of your directory data can become cloud-enabled, there are sometimes workloads that should be separated and kept in-house. Federation – notably Active Directory Federation Services – enables a seamless hybrid system of on premise Active Directory and Azure AD.

Support from certified experts

The Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program accredits partners to provision, manage and support Microsoft cloud offerings. Partners can expertly advise and support your deployment of Azure AD and the whole suite of Azure services.

As one of the first Tier 1 CSP partners, iomart helps customers leverage the cloud by owning the complete billing process and directly managing support. Applying our existing expertise in cloud technology, we can assist with your move to Azure services, whether it be a seamless transition to Azure AD, planning and executing large Office 365 migrations, or unlocking additional valuable services Azure provides, such as file storage via OneDrive, knowledge management through SharePoint and business intelligence tools like Power BI.

If you would like to find out how we can help you unlock the power of Microsoft Azure visit  iomart.com/managed-services/managed-azure/ or call us on 0800 040 7228 for a chat.