How Okta Helps Automate User Provisioning for Active Directory

HR departments in many organizations use Microsoft Active Directory (AD) to manage the access permissions of people and devices on a Microsoft network. AD lets admins assign employees and outside users the appropriate access privileges to company resources, but it comes with some drawbacks. With AD, IT departments need to spend time installing, configuring, and managing each individual cloud application, and HR must manually provision users when they join the organization or change roles. These are all tedious tasks that divert both teams’ time and focus from more impactful projects and are prone to human errors that ultimately limit the efficiency of any organization.

Managing User Access Is a Full-Time Job

User provisioning involves various processes that span multiple departments and applications. HR, IT, and payroll teams all need to create accounts across multiple systems so that users can access each relevant app. If these systems are AD-integrated, administrators need to provision fewer accounts. However, provisioning and deprovisioning are not one-off tasks. As a user changes roles, system administrators need to make the relevant changes to their access settings, and when they leave the organization, their accounts need to be disabled and eventually deleted.

Manually provisioning AD accounts can burden IT, especially in growing, changing organizations. The mundanity of these tasks makes them prone to human error—administrators may, for example, assign the user incorrect access, which limits their efficiency. Accounts could also remain active long after the user has left, increasing the organization’s shadow IT and providing another potential access point for hackers. As not every application uses AD for authentication, especially in today’s cloud-first mobile world, this increases the burden of managing user access even further. Users end up with multiple accounts for various systems, adding to the burden administrators face as they manage users’ access across services.

The Benefits of Provisioning Users with Okta

Automating user provisioning with Okta can increase productivity by freeing up time for admins and users to focus on more pressing tasks. It also improves efficiency by reducing the risks of human error in these tasks, and allows IT to better secure their environment by establishing the correct levels of access.

Okta’s Lifecycle Management integrates with AD, and many other directory services, automating and managing the entire lifecycle as users join, change roles, and leave an organization. As Okta offers over 120 pre-integrated applications for on- and offboarding, when HR adds a new employee or changes their role, Okta automatically updates their AD account with the app permissions they need and adds the employee to the relevant privileged access groups. 

In distributed environments where AD is not the sole authentication service, organizations can use Okta’s Universal Directory. This solution simplifies the user provisioning process by integrating with any extensible app or directory with lifecycle awareness. With Universal Directory, admins have a single, unified reference point from which to manage users, access groups, and devices. 

By using Okta to provision users, IT gets the visibility they need to properly manage their environment. Admins gain a consolidated view of users across every application, which helps them make informed decisions about access policy. From this unified look at user actions, admins can take the insights they need to see how the organization stacks up against governance and compliance requirements. Admins can also make use of the solution’s audit access reports to confirm that every user that has access to every application they manage in real time.

User provisioning on AD no longer needs to be time-consuming, inefficient, or pose a security risk. With Okta’s solutions, organizations can increase their productivity, become more efficient, and free IT to concentrate on adding value.