Using cloud directories in the era of hybrid IT

These days, hybrid IT has become the norm. Most organizations are in the process of moving to the cloud, but it’s often a journey of several years. And many legacy applications aren’t designed for the cloud, period. So if you’re like most organizations, you’re using a mix and match approach to IT, where you store applications where they work best for now. You might run some applications from the cloud, and others from on-premises data centers.

In the meantime, what does that mean for your directories? How do you manage identity and single sign-on for these distributed systems across all of your employees, customers, partners, and even internet of things (IoT) devices? Traditional on-premises directories are struggling to keep up with the demands of this digital era. And it can quickly become cumbersome to try to manage several different directories, instead of a single source of truth.

An effective solution is to migrate all of your directories to the cloud. Cloud directories are becoming more popular than they were even a couple of years ago. That’s because they give you unprecedented flexibility and scale. By adopting a cloud directory, you can:

  • Support your organization’s “cloud first” IT strategy
  • Take advantage of a more flexible directory structure to support millions of users and relationships between objects (rather than the traditional hierarchical structure)
  • Scale up or down more easily, and pay as you go
  • Offload utilization, performance, failover, and other availability concerns
  • Set yourself up to better adhere to privacy regulations

Given these many benefits, Gartner suggests that you absolutely look to adopt cloud directories where they make sense. These are available from many providers, including Microsoft with its Azure Active Directory.

If you decide to go this route, there are a few things to consider:

  • Pick a flexible option. Make sure that the cloud directory you choose will support everything you need it to support. That includes your on-premises applications, devices, and networks. Plus any IoT devices.
  • Migrate slowly. Avoid migrating all of your directories in a single “big bang” approach, which can cause organization-wide issues if things go sideways. Instead, put together a sequenced roadmap for which directories you’ll migrate when.
  • Rethink your structure. As part of the migration, you should also take the time to re-map attributes into a new, more flexible structure. Transform your directory attributes to take advantage of the cloud’s more flexible architecture.
  • Design for privacy. This is a huge topic these days, particularly with the new European privacy regulations going into effect next year, which will also affect many companies around the world. Pick and design your directories accordingly. Avoid migrating or storing attributes you don’t need. Make sure to keep attributes secure. And create a process for deleting customer data when they ask.
  • Pamper your developers by choosing a directory that’s easy for them to modify. The vendor you choose should provide well-defined integrations, a rich library of code examples, and the ability to modify in several programming languages. That way, it will be much easier for you to customize the directories to meet your unique business needs. When it comes to directories, one size never fits all.

Get started

We at Binary Tree can help you migrate one or many legacy directories to the Microsoft cloud. To get started, check out our modernization solutions for Active Directory. We can walk you through the process from end to end, including the steps it takes to plan, move, and manage these complex directory modernization projects.