Last year, Microsoft launched Azure Active Directory Connect, an updated tool for synchronizing Office 365 accounts with identity management systems and enabling single sign-on. Rather than updating existing sync tools, Connect is a new tool that will replace Office 365 DirSync & Azure AD Sync.
How Azure AD Connect works
As of right now, Microsoft simply recommends the use of AD Connect, and hasn’t outright replaced the older tools. Instead, DirSync and Azure AD Sync will remain available for use for the next year before going unsupported on April 13, 2017.
At that point, DirSync and Azure AD Sync will no longer be available to install but will continue to function without updates. The two services are expected stop working altogether at a later date yet to be announced by Microsoft.
So, what does this mean for companies using the old tools?
In short, it means that it’s time to upgrade!
While it’s likely a year or two off before DirSync & AD Sync cease to function, there are quite a few good reasons to make the change sooner than later. Aside from the added features of AD Connect, you can also avoid a few problems. As with other End-of-Life products (like Windows Server 2003), the two biggest risk factors for sticking with the old tools are compromised security and stability.
A lack of updates to DirSync and AD Sync will make it harder for Office 365 and Azure to integrate without a few bugs developing. For reference, the last time DirSync was updated was July 2014, while Azure AD Sync was updated May 2015. These bugs may cause the services to operate less efficiently and even create vulnerabilities that unauthorized parties can exploit to access sensitive data.
Got it! Now how do I update?
Microsoft is currently offering businesses using the older tools an opportunity to upgrade to AD Connect, however, the upgrade process itself must be undertaken via a manual installation. This can put smaller businesses without technical staff at a disadvantage, as performing the installation incorrectly has the potential to disrupt AD services.
If you’re feeling wary of upgrading yourself, a technology Partner specialized in the cloud would likely be able to assist in upgrading without any surprises. Metro CSG is one such company that can assist with an upgrade to Azure AD Connect.
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