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December 15, 2020

5 Ways Azure Active Directory Can Integrate and Improve How Employees Work

Enabling employees to work from anywhere while keeping company data secure is a growing need for businesses. To accomplish this, Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) should be a tool in your company’s IT arsenal. Azure AD is Microsoft’s next-generation, fully cloud-based identity and access management solution. It allows organizations of all sizes to manage accounts and data access. In many cases, Azure AD does not require any on-premises servers, allowing companies to actually decommission aging Domain Controllers. Imagine never buying another Domain Controller! Azure AD can do that for your company, while also helping your employees work more efficiently, effectively and securely.

How has Azure Active Directory evolved with company needs?

Twenty years ago, Microsoft released the first version of Active Directory. It was revolutionary at the time, allowing businesses to centrally secure and manage their information within their datacenters. Back then, most employees worked in the office. Smartphones would not exist for another seven years, tablets for another ten. Most of us didn’t even have high speed internet at home. Companies focused on building and securing their own datacenters, making them inaccessible outside of their own buildings. Active Directory was fantastic in 2000, before we had the expectation to have all corporate data securely accessible anywhere, from any device.

Now in 2020, the world has changed. Modern workers need data quickly. Modern customers demand security. New hires entering the workforce have never worked any other way. The incoming generation of workers are digital natives who expect the ability to be productive from anywhere. Companies are rethinking their datacenter infrastructures, wanting to become faster, less expensive, and more flexible. IT Managers want to spend less time and money on hardware, and more on delivering the outcomes their users’ demand. With all of this in mind, below we talk about five ways Azure Active Directory can help accomplish these needs and wants.

1. Seamlessly Connect to All of Your Business Applications

Azure AD Single Sign-On (SSO) provides easy access to internal and external resources for permitted users. This means that anyone in your organization can have secure access to on-premise resources and thousands of cloud SaaS applications from anywhere. SSO increases productivity by giving users access to company applications by signing in once to one convenient portal. Users use one password to get into all of their applications while being completely secure.

2. Enhance Security with Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) significantly increases the security of logins by enforcing a two-step verification process and is a must in today’s cybersecurity climate. According to Microsoft’s Group Program Manager Alex Weinert “your account is more than 99.9% less likely to be compromised if you use MFA.” Azure AD offers a built-in, comprehensive MFA security solution with easy implementation. Combine MFA with conditional access, and you can create policies that control how, where and who can access your company’s data.

3. Protect Against Costly Data Breaches

Anders Technology specializes in implementing Azure AD policies and procedures that reduce IT security risks. With the use of risky user and sign-in reports, we can identify and stop account compromises before harmful behavior arises. Automated responses to unusual user behavior or sign-in attempts instill confidence in organizations knowing their applications and company data remain safe.  

4. Synchronize with Existing Windows Server Active Directory

If your organization already has an on-premises Windows Server Active Directory, users and groups can be synchronized to Azure AD using a tool such as Azure Active Directory Connect (AAD Connect). Implementing Azure Active Directory Connect enables users to authenticate to Windows Server Active Directory when accessing cloud and on-premises applications or resources.

Many businesses rely on existing Active Directory structures to enforce Group Policies within their network. Using Azure Active Directory in conjunction with Microsoft InTune, Group Policies can now be enforced on any of your resources, anywhere in the world. And all of this can be achieved using the same set of credentials for a single user identity!

5. Azure AD Is a Cost-Effective Solution to Windows Server Active Directory

Many startups and small businesses do not have an on-premise Windows Server Active Directory. With Azure AD, they may never need to buy one. These organizations can leverage Microsoft‘s cost effective cloud-based Azure AD services to manage their user’s identity and access to SaaS applications, all while taking advantage of all the other great features mentioned above.

How to Get Started with Azure AD

With over 28 data centers around the world and Microsoft handling the availability and services, Azure AD is accessible from wherever you are. While there are no costs for using Azure AD, several paid Azure Premium subscriptions can be added to best fit your business needs. The subscriptions provide value-added features, including:

  • Comprehensive security alerting and reporting
  • Group and user-based application access
  • Custom company branding
  • Self-service user management capabilities

Azure AD helps businesses streamline productivity by providing an easy means for managing company resources and applications, making them securely accessible to all of your users, no matter where they are or what devices they use. You wouldn’t expect your year-2000 mobile phone to work for you today. Why expect that from your access management solution?

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Anders Technology has both the expertise and the experience to guide you to a solution that’s tailored to your company’s unique and specific needs. Contact an Anders advisor to discuss your situation.

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