Use Azure Active Directory to reduce SaaS and cloud management pains

June 3, 2016 Martin Pietrzak

It’s no secret businesses of all sizes are relying more than ever on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud-hosted applications. But this new trend is causing huge headaches for IT administrators, in particular when it comes to managing user identities, allowing access to apps, and synchronizing with on-premise directories.

Managing Azure Active Directory

In our latest Azure webinar, we take a closer look at this growing pain for IT and focus on one of the most effective solutions to help reduce the headaches, called Azure Active Directory.

Watch the recorded webinar from our Softchoice experts or continue reading…

Identity Management: A growing problem for the enterprise

Medium and large enterprises are adopting SaaS at an accelerated pace across all crucial business application categories, such as productivity, business intelligence, and customer relationship management. In 2015 alone, worldwide sales of SaaS were expected to hit $22.1 billion, a 16% jump over the year before.

Add to this situation a growing dependence on the cloud as a custom app development platform, as well as the rampant spread of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives, and you have the perfect storm to wreak havoc on identity management admins, everywhere.

So how is it impacting IT? This ID management problem manifests in three distinct ways:

  • Lack of insights: Limited data about how many or which cloud apps are being used
  • Lack of control: Don’t know how to assess the risk much less control it.
  • Lack of tools: Traditional network and endpoint security measures no longer effective

3 ways to take back control of identity management with Azure Active Directory

There is, however, hope. While there are a number of solutions custom built to bring simplicity and security to managing cloud applications, we suggest a suite of Microsoft-built tools centered around its Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) product.

Azure AD is a comprehensive identity and access management cloud solution, and it is familiar to any business already using Office 365. With it, businesses are typically taking one of three approaches:

  • Cloud Identity: Suitable for smaller businesses, this cloud-only Azure AD approach works for businesses with no existing on-premise directories (think start-ups).
  • Directory Synchronization: For medium to large enterprises without federation, organizations are using this approach. While it allows password sync across apps and devices, the only downside is that users need to re-enter the password each time.
  • Federated Identity: By far the most seamless approach for end-users, Federated Identity also relies on Azure AD. Thanks to Federation, Single Sign On is possible.While Azure AD is free, opting for the Premium flavor has numerous additional benefits to enterprises, including an SLA of 99.9% uptime, as well as usage rights to Microsoft Identity Manager 2016 (MIM), a powerful set of tools which also enables multi-factor authentication, among many other things.

Why Azure AD?

The simplest reason businesses consider Azure AD is this: it makes it easier to deliver a seamless user authentication experience. In these days of Shadow IT, ensuring that end-users actually want to go through the correct channels to access their business apps is crucial. If there are any friction points, more than likely they will just go around you.

Have lots of cloud apps? You will have all your bases covered with Azure AD. It comes pre-integrated with over 2,000 popular SaaS applications as well easy and simple development tools to integrate it with customer business apps.

Pre-integrated SaaS Apps in the Azure Active Directory Application Gallery

There are other big benefits too, that both IT leaders and the business executives will appreciate. Top among them is cutting down on costs. A key feature of Azure AD is enabling as much self-service as possible for users (e.g password resets), as well as quick and easy admin tools that get better with every major update. The result is far less time wasted on customer support issues – and the cost savings that come with that.

Want to learn more? Watch the pre-recorded webinar and get more insight from your peers and Softchoice Azure experts

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