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How to Extend Active Directory to Office 365 with Okta

Teju Shyamsundar Okta blog bio
Teju Shyamsundar
Senior Product Marketing Manager

It’s no secret that Microsoft has successfully launched a shift into the cloud. With SaaS apps like Office 365 taking over the workforce—a product with 39% adoption among Okta users, and the most widely used application in our Okta Application Network—there’s never been a better time to move your company into the cloud and into the future.

However, Microsoft is also still limited by legacy software. Their Active Directory (AD) is critical for managing the user lifecycle for apps like Office 365, but it wasn’t built for the low-cost cloud era. If your company is using only AD for on-premises connections, you can’t experience the full benefits of the cloud. Now users want benefits like single sign-on (SSO) across all services and devices, at any time.

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Concerns with migration
Microsoft offers free tools to extend AD to the cloud for use with Office 365. However, they aren’t the most efficient or accurate way to move that data over.

In our Office 365 Deployment Tech Guide, we outline four major identity concerns for using Microsoft sync technologies to connect Office 365 and on-premises AD:

  1. User authentication

  2. Real-time synchronization

  3. Lifecycle automation

  4. Mobility
     

At their core, these issues demand simple and error-free management starting with data synchronization. Okta helps to fill in the gaps and solve these problems using a single, lightweight architecture.

You can extend AD to Office 365 in four easy steps:

1) Connect to the cloud
Unlike Microsoft’s tools, which require extra servers and on-premises software, Okta requires no special network considerations or load balancers. Instead, simply install a small lightweight agent on existing servers in your AD environment. This agent is less than 5MB, so it's ready to go in just a few minutes.

2) Set up AD with the Okta Active Directory Agent 
The setup wizard does the heavy lifting here. The new Okta agent automates any complex configuration between AD and Office 365. It only needs a few pieces of information to get going, like your domain name, and administrator username and password. Once complete, a secure connection is made between AD and your Okta instance.

3) Connect Okta to Office 365 with preconfigured integration
Your new agent includes thousands of preconfigured itnegrations. Simply activate Office 365 in Okta and follow the steps to integrate. Your AD users, groups, and any policies you've already configured are automatically imported. If there are any conflicts, you'll be notified, and give the chance to resolve them. 

4) Delegate synchronization woes and automate the user lifecycle
There’s no need to do additional error-prone manual configuration and maintenance. AD is now synced in real-time to Office 365 via Okta Universal Directory. This interface is now a single place to manage all your users and groups, including setup of automatic provisioning and deprovisioning of your users.

Continuing Success in the Future
Okta’s connection between AD and Office 365 isn’t just limited to lifecycle management. With Universal Directory, you can quickly increase data security with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). Instead of needing to individually manage and activate MFA on each user in Office 365, you can now assign security groups to users and enforce it by policy. You can also use Okta with 5,000+ pre-integrated applications. With Okta Universal Directory, you can extend AD to any of your services—and that approach means you’re set up to scale securely in the cloud.

Okta is the leading identity management provider for more than 3,000 customers. Read their success stories or give Okta a try today with a free trial.

Teju Shyamsundar Okta blog bio
Teju Shyamsundar
Senior Product Marketing Manager

Teju Shyamsundar is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Okta, leading our Adaptive Authentication products. Prior to Okta, she worked at Microsoft and implemented enterprise mobility technologies across a large set of enterprise customers in various industries. Teju now works on driving the value of Okta’s adaptive MFA and Adaptive SSO capabilities across customers and partners. Teju holds a BS degree in Computer & Information Technology from Purdue University.