Sunday Feb 05, 2023

On-Prem AD vs. Hybrid Azure AD Join vs. Azure AD: Key Differences – Spiceworks News and Insights


The most difficult aspect of transitioning from traditional management to a modern one for Windows 10 is deciding whether to utilize on-premises AD, Azure AD, or a hybrid of the two. In this article, we will compare AD DS to Azure AD and see what our standard Active Directory can accomplish that Azure AD cannot. We will also look at how Microsoft conducts hybrid solution installation and why this way may be beneficial for some businesses.

Once upon a time, every Windows enterprise was flat. Active Directory was the sole container that stored all your domain data objects. We simply referred to it as AD back then because it was the only AD form. It was supported by the three pillars: domain controllers, DNS, and group policy. It was an architecture that served many enterprises well for nearly two decades. And then came Azure, and suddenly, traditional AD is now referred to as legacy AD in some circles. Azure AD, of course, exists in the cloud, that wonderful destination to which it seems most organizations want to transition. Because it is cloud-native, it utilizes different protocols and methodologies for account authentication and policy implementation. In some ways, local AD and Azure AD are like water and oil because they are so different.

See More: What Is Azure? Fundamentals, Services, and Pricing in 2022

Key Differences Between On-Prem AD, Hybrid Azure AD Join & Azure AD

The primary limitation of local AD

Many companies had begun their cloud migration journeys years ago. Still, the remote work revolution in 2020 was equivalent to pouring kerosene on an existing flame. That was when the remote work revolution began. Legacy AD’s limitation greatly inhibits its ability to support hybrid work architectures. It requires domain-joined computers to have line-of-site to a domain controller. This makes it impossible for employees to log onto the corporate network when operating from a remote workspace such as their home office or hotel room. The only way to attain AD connectivity then is through a VPN connection. This makes the onboarding process of a new computer challenging at best. Moreover, your VPN infrastructure can quickly become a bottleneck when many users use it. VPN then requires remote access and routing policies to enforce the least privilege security so that remote users don’t have access to the entire network. 

The modern world of fully transitioning to Azure AD

If you are a Windows admin, you are probably familiar with the concept of tombstoning, which helps recover accidental object deletions in AD. Azure AD is a way to tombstone your on-prem AD servers permanently. No more having to worry about AD synchronization or DNS scavenging. Everything now exists in the cloud, where users and Azure-joined computers go to authenticate. Azure-joined computers only need an internet connection to authenticate, thus nullifying the necessity for AD connectivity. Suddenly users can work from anywhere without the hassle of a problematic VPN. Microsoft 365 uses Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) to manage user identities, so employees are automatically signed in on their corporate devices.

The real beauty of Azure AD becomes vivid when provisioning devices. Windows computers that are cloud-domain joined and autopilot configured can be shipped directly from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to the waiting user, regardless of location. The user opens the box, powers the device and logs in using their Azure AD credentials. Once autopilot completes the configuration process of the device, …….


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