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Azure AD Connect: Advanced filtering for synchronization

This guide delves into the Azure AD Connect filtering options, showcasing how these settings can optimize synchronization and security within your organization.

Azure AD-Connect is a tool that connects on-prem identities to Microsoft Azure AD. It has numerous features to offer, some being synchronization, integration, and authentication. Here, synchronization is significantly more popular than the rest.

In a nutshell, identity data is synced between the on-prem AD environment of an organization and Azure AD. With this, both on-prem and cloud services can be accessed by users using the same credentials. It is done without compromising data security, avoiding unauthorized access and similar security concerns. To summarize, user data is kept secure and consistent between the organization’s directories by Azure AD Connect.

Speaking of synchronization, Azure AD Connect Sync handles all the processes related to linking on-prem identity data. Some of the key features are:

  • Password hash synchronization
  • Pass through authentication
  • Synchronization between tenants
  • Hybrid Azure AD join capabilities

Just as efficient and seamless synchronization can be with Azure AD Connect, the default or primary process may not blend in or align well with an organization’s requirements, especially if they hold specifics. Synchronization rules were enforced in Azure AD-Connect to enable additional customization and modification.

A synchronization rule with respect to Azure AD is a configuration tool that tells how objects from an on-prem AD environment are synchronized to Azure AD. It describes how an object in the connector space is linked to one in the metaverse. Several synchronization rules in Azure AD Connect enable customization and modification of operations. However, these rules need filtering to reduce synchronization overhead and manage data consistency and security.

With the Azure AD Connect filtering options, the organization can control the appearance of objects in Azure AD from their on-prem directory. Not to forget, you can enable filtering anytime to modify objects. The following filtering options can be opted for and applied to the directory synchronization.

  • Group-based: This is used for pilot deployment, where only a small group of objects is to be synchronized. You can synchronize multiple AD forests by configuring a group-based filter. It is done by specifying a different group for each AD connector. You can disable this option only once. Group-based filtering faces challenges concerning scalability and management, hence is not recommended for long-term productions.
  • Domain-based: In this, you are provided steps to configure your domain filter. You need to update the filtering configuration as you add and eliminate domains. You can increase the security of user accounts since the elimination of unnecessary objects is a crucial step in this method.
  • Organizational unit-based: You can selectively configure objects using this way based on their location within the on-prem AD structure. It allows you to have a more targeted approach to synchronization based on your requirements. User accounts can be easily managed by function or department, simplifying manageability.
  • Attribute-based: With this option, you can define rules according to specific requirements and based on the values of specific attributes within the on-prem AD schema. It is the most granular and flexible way to filter objects. Declarative positioning does this to control aspects of objects when synchronized with Azure AD.

In summary, Azure AD Connect facilitates seamless integration between on-prem AD and Azure AD, ensuring consistent user access across environments. Synchronization rules help with customization, while filtering options offer control over objects. Organizations can modify  synchronization to their specific requirements, maintaining  efficiency and security. Thus, Azure AD Connect offers an in-depth solution for maintaining data consistency while mitigating security risks.

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