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Azure AD vs. Azure AD DS

What is the Difference Between Azure AD and Azure AD DS?

May 26, 20196 mins readAmit Masih
What is the Difference Between Azure AD and Azure AD DS?

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft is always known for keeping its users and learners updated and serving them the best services related to technology. Microsoft Azure is established as a public cloud computing platform with unlimited potential that provides solutions related to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). These services perform various activities such as analytics, virtual computing, storage, and networking. Microsoft Azure can also be used as an alternative to other on-premise servers.

The Azure cloud platform offers more than 200 products and cloud services that are useful in creating a solution for related challenges. The products are related but not restricted to production and operations management and perform all the relevant activities with tools and designs of your choice. Depending on the requirements, various programs and services include preserving at some safe place and transforming your data into some usable form. 

You might have seen the unique identities of employees, groups, and resources in any organization. To create those unique virtual identities, Azure directory services are used. In simple language active directory is the database of those individuals, groups, or resources in any particular organization.

What is a Directory?

Cloud Directory is, at its heart, a customized graph-based directory repository that serves as a foundational building element for developers. The Azure Active Directory service is a directory. There are one or maybe more domains in each directory, and there can be multiple subscriptions linked with a directory, but still only one tenant. 

What is the difference between Azure AD and Azure AD DS?

 The three major directory services of Microsoft Azure are Active directory domain services (AD DS), Azure active directory (Azure AD), and Azure Active Directory domain services. All three hold several advancements and salient features that make them distinguishable. 

Let's understand each one by one to understand the topic better. 

There are three typical ways to leverage Active Directory-based services in Azure to give apps, services, or devices access to a central or unique identification. This range of identification solutions allows you to understand and select the most appropriate directory for your company's needs. It may not make sense to design and administer your own Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) identity solution if you predominantly manage cloud-only customers that utilize mobile devices, which will cost a lot of time and labor. You could simply use Azure Active Directory instead.

Even though the three Active Directory-based identity solutions have almost the same name and technology, they're designed to meet different customer needs. These identify solutions and classification methods are, to a greater extent:

Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS): An corporate lightweight directory access protocol (LDAP) server that includes identity and verification, computer object governance, group policy, and trusts. Many firms with an on-premises IT environment use AD DS to provide primary user profile verification and computer management capabilities.

Azure Active Directory: Azure AD is a virtualized identity and mobile device administration service that manages user accounts and authentication for Microsoft 365, the Azure portal, and SaaS apps.

Users can have a single identity that performs natively in the cloud by synchronizing Azure AD with an on-premises AD DS system.

Azure Active Directory Domain Services (Azure AD DS): AD DS Provides administered domain services with a subset of designed to work AD DS features such as network join, group policy, LDAP, and Kerberos / NTLM authorization. Azure AD DS works with Azure AD, which can sync with an AD DS installation on-premises. As support of a lift-and-shift strategy, this capability expands central identity use instances to standard internet applications installed in Azure.

Microsoft Azure Active Directory Domain Services (AAD DS) provides cloud-based services that include domain group, group policy, DNS services, LDAP, Kerberos / NTLM authentication, etc. Indeed, AAD revolutionized the cloud with its key features, such as cloud-based access control. Microsoft created an AAD intending to enable enterprises to manage on-premises infrastructure parts and systems.

AD and AADS are similar in basic concept and structural basis but still hold several differences in operation and applications. In terms of devices, AD requires any third-party to be operated on android devices, while AADS can be synchronized with Microsoft's mobile device management solution, and Microsoft Intune helps in the authentication of identity. Window devices can be joined with both. 

In Azure AD, organizations can access it through the Azure portal, which helps manage the credentials of employees, their passwords, and the needed permissions. After being authenticated, users can only access various services provided by the platform, but there is no option for configuration access rights due to some structural limitations in Azure AD. 

To resolve the problem mentioned above that every organization generally faces. Other drawbacks of Azure AD, Microsoft came up with Azure AD Domain Services (AAD DS). AAD DS is an Azure product that provides an Active Directory domain on two domain controllers. 

Here are some salient features mentioned below that will help you understand how Azure AD and Azure AD DS are different.

Azure AD

  • Cloud-based identity solution
  • Multi-tenant (tenant-based or tied to an enrolment)
  • No GPO's
  • Suitable for Office 365 and Azure user management
  • Provides services related to users, applications, groups, and security principles
  • Not extendable 
  • It can be managed by graph API
  • Mobile device management option available
  • Four licensing options are available that are free, basic, premium 1, and premium 2 (These premium versions provide advanced security features, self-service features, and multi-factor authentication (MFA).)

Azure AD DS

  • Acts as a central component in organizations
  • Cloud-based directory service
  • One-premises identity & authentication
  • Group policies
  • Handle traditional directory-aware apps such as SaaS
  • GPOs can be employed
  • Provides option between a managed and self-managed domain
  • It uses Kerberos for authentications

The best thing about these services is that they can be used in a collaboration that will give any company synergistic benefits. It is a mind-blowing idea that you use three different things together so that you will benefit from all three. 

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