The Imperfect Lab: Syncing AD to Azure AD

Today I decided to ease myself into my next steps and build out a member server to sync AD to.  I reused some previous PowerShell to deploy a member server and join it to my domain.  It is possible to run the sync services on an existing domain controller, but as a best practice I don’t like to install one-off applications on my domain controllers.  I like to keep them identical, thus the need for different member server to perform the sync role.

I had previously uploaded the Microsoft Azure AD Sync Services (aka AADSync) application to my Azure file share, but you can find it at http://aka.ms/azureadsync.  You will want to install and run the Microsoft Azure AD Connection Tool.  Please note that Microsoft Azure AD Sync Services is DIFFERENT from Windows Azure Active Directory Sync (aka DirSync)

Once the Sync Server is built, you will want to kick off the installation of the application, but not before you’d made some adjustments to your Azure Directory.  In the Portal, I went to my directory and created a new user account to be my Azure AD Administrator (newuser@imperfectlab.com) and made it a Global Administrator.  You will also need to go through the sign-in process to set a non-temporary password.

Once you have this account, you simply need to throw the switch under “Directory Integration -> Directory Sync” from Inactive to Active.  Once the setting is saved, the “Last Sync” field will say “never synced”.  Now go over to your sync server and run that connection tool.

You’ll need the account and credentials you created for the new Azure AD Admin and some information about your domain.  For the addition of the forest, you’ll need your domain name and the username and password of a enterprise domain admin from your local domain.  This will be different than the account your created directly in Azure AD.

Leave the User Matching page at the defaults but select “Password Synchronization” from the Optional Features. Finally, review your configuration screen and verify that “Synchronize Now” is checked and click finish.  At this point, your users should sync into Azure AD and after a few minutes you’ll see a list of them in the portal.

If you want to make any changes to the settings of your AD Sync, like adding in a feature, simply rerun the tool after disabling the Azure AD Sync Task in Task Scheduler.  The task will be re-enabled automatically when you finish the wizard again.

If you want to force a sync for Azure AD Sync Services for any reason, the default location of the command line tool is:

c:\program files\microsoft azure ad sync\bin\directorysyncclientcmd [initial|delta]

Happy Syncing!

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2 thoughts on “The Imperfect Lab: Syncing AD to Azure AD

  1. How is Microsoft Azure AD Sync Services different from Windows Azure Active Directory Sync (aka DirSync)? Where can I find guidelines on when to use each of the product over the other?

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  2. Azure AD Sync Services ultimately replaces DirSync and you would want to use AAD Sync Services going forward. Rod Trent sums it up quickly here – http://windowsitpro.com/azure/azure-ad-sync-service-released-makes-dirsync-and-fim-obsolete and I found this post helpful for figuring out some of the differences between versions, particularly when needing to force a sync – http://blogs.technet.com/b/rmilne/archive/2014/10/01/how-to-run-manual-dirsync-_2f00_-azure-active-directory-sync-updates.aspx

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