Customers moving to the cloud ask us two questions more than any others:
" What's the best way to connect my on-premises directory to Office 365?"
- and -
"What's the best way to connect my on-premises directory to Azure?"
The answer hinges on the fact that Office 365, Azure and many other Microsoft Cloud Services don't actually connect directly to your on-premises directory. They use Azure AD as their identity system, and it handles all the identity connections with your enterprise and your users. This specialization simplifies connecting to the cloud and means you can use a single connection to access multiple services from Microsoft and 3 rd parties.
As a result "How should I connect to Office 365?" (or Azure or CRM Online or PowerBI) is more accurately:
"How should my organization provision identities into Azure AD? And which authentication option should we use?"
Once this is answered, Office365, Azure, Microsoft CRM and PowerBI all "just work". Let's take a look at what the data tells us customers are actually doing.
Provisioning users into Azure AD:
To get started, as of this morning, 4.9M organizations are using Azure AD to manage > 430M identities:
Fig 1: How organizations with >500 employees provision users in Azure AD
Authenticating with Azure AD:
If you follow this blog, you know that every day we process > 1 billion authentications and on our busiest days > 2 billion. Azure AD supports a variety of approaches to authentication, but a few of them are much more widely used than the others:
Of these 1B+ daily authentications
(Note: These don't sum to 100% due to rounding errors)
Fig 2: Breakdown of how Azure AD Authentications are completed
The numbers tell a clear story. We've designed Azure AD to be open and standards based so as to give our customers access to a wide variety of 3 rd party options. However the overwhelming majority of customers find that off-the-shelf AAD provides the best identity solution, eliminating added costs and the need to take dependencies.
We're thrilled to see this and happy to know that we're providing a complete solution that meets the needs of the vast majority of Microsoft's cloud customers!
If you found this blog post interesting/useful, please let me know. And as always, we'd love to receive any feedback or suggestions you have.
Alex Simons (Twitter: @Alex_A_Simons )
Director of PM
Microsoft Identity and Security Services Division
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