Azure active directory

Paul Lemon
Paul Lemon used Ask the Experts™
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Hi, we have Azure active directory as part of our Office 365 licence. I cant find any definitive information on the subject, but can you use Azure active directory in place of on-site AD.
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but can you use Azure active directory in place of on-site AD.

No, they serve very different purposes. To break it down simply it really comes down to authentication.

Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS): Kerberos, NTLM.
Azure Active Directory (AAD): OAuth, SAML, OpenID, WS-Fed.

In terms of authentication, Azure AD is purpose built for claims aware web applications. Azure AD is more akin to Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS) than it is to Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS). To give you an example of where you would use AD DS vs. AAD and vice versa.

Domain joined device - accessing a file share
This is a perfect SSO scenario for an on-premises ADDS. You would authenticate via Kerberos or NTLM and seamlessly access the network share.

Domain joined device - remotely accessing O365
This is a perfect SSO scenario for Azure AD. The device is running outside of your network, so Kerberos and NTLM are not options. In this case a web based protocol is perfect, therefore AAD authentication is the way to go (otherwise ADFS).

You can go completely native AAD, where all of your services are cloud based yes. But this will not integrate with any on-premises services (think printing, file shares, etc.).

Note, do not confused Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) and Azure Active Directory (AAD) with Azure Active Directory Domain Services (AAD DS). Yes the terminology can get confusing if you're new to it.
Paul LemonI.T. Manager

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Thanks for your help

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