There has been a lot of talk among our customers and prospects about the new world that is cloud computing and how Active Directory fits into it. When I think about navigating clouds, I can’t help but think about my friends and family (and Imanami’s CEO) who are pilots. Talk to any pilot about flying through clouds and they will all tell you the same thing. Trust your instruments and they will get you through.
So how does that apply in the IT world?
Simple. You have to have trust in the systems that you control and that provide access and authentication in the cloud. In many organizations and for many cloud providers that system is Active Directory.
Whether you are dealing with BPOS or Google Apps, you need to keep your local Active Directory up to date and accurate. That is the instrument that guides applications in the cloud. Since most organizations look to the cloud to reduce expenses and local management, it often makes sense to incorporate automating and delegating the management of Active Directory at the same time.
Let’s say that you have decided to go with an outsourced email solution. Good for you! We did it too! But, all of your GAL and distribution group information is still being created and maintained locally with your on premise Active Directory. That information gets synchronized up to the cloud, but the local Active Directory is the authoritative source.
In the case of group information, we have many customers who are using our Automate module to create and maintain dynamic distribution groups. So if Joe was in the Finance department, but he got a new job in Audit he is automatically taken out of the finance email groups and put into the audit groups based on his Active Directory attributes.
Speaking of Active Directory attributes, what about delegating the management of some of those with an end user Self Service solution? Now that Joe has a new job in Audit, he might need to update his phone number, office or address information. Using GroupID Self Service those changes are written directly to Active Directory (with workflow, if you would like) and now they are reflected in the GAL. All without IT having to lift a finger.
Even if you are no longer supporting local applications, it is still critical that group and user information is kept up to date in Active Directory. If you are still doing it manually you are probably not realizing all of the cost savings and efficiencies you can from a cloud solution.