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Microsoft Active Directory (AD) serves as the foundation for identity management and access control within an enterprise, orchestrating the relationship between users, systems and resources. Its critical role encompasses everything from facilitating login processes to securing data access across a sprawling network. Though aging, AD is not going anywhere. Many organizations still require on-premises identity directory services, and need to support a dynamic environment that is flexible and secure.

The Drive for modernization

The catalysts for modernizing AD are multifaceted. Business transformations, such as mergers, acquisitions and divestitures demand AD structures that can be adapted quickly and seamlessly. In addition, escalating threat landscape requires AD services that can withstand and repel advanced cyber-attacks, necessitating a departure from legacy setups and authentication towards more resilient configurations, such as modern authentication and the prevention of malicious lateral movement throughout an environment. In addition, the shift towards remote and hybrid work models necessitates a more agile and accessible AD framework for both users and applications.

Benefits of modernizing active directory

Modernizing AD brings several key benefits that align with the strategic goals of an enterprise:

  • Simplified architecture: Reducing complexity not only eases management but also enhances performance and scalability.
  • Enhanced security: Implementing advanced security measures, hardening techniques and modernizing authentication fortifies the AD against new threats.
  • Future-ready framework: An updated AD can better support organizational changes, facilitating smoother transitions and integration.
  • Improved identity management: Modernization allows for the adoption of new identity management solutions, catering to the evolving needs of a global and mobile workforce.

Key considerations in modernizing Active Directory (AD)

Embarking on an AD modernization journey requires a strategic approach:

  • Current state assessment: Understanding the existing AD state is crucial for identifying gaps and planning improvements.
  • Alignment with business objectives: Modernization efforts should be in harmony with the broader business goals and technical requirements, ensuring that AD serves as a catalyst for achieving them.
  • Security and compliance baseline requirements: Establishing baseline requirements based on industry best practices and business requirements is a key step to develop the foundation of your modern AD deployment to ensure compliance with internal and external regulations.
  • Roadmap development: A clear, phased roadmap helps in managing the modernization process, outlining steps for security enhancements, compliance updates and operational efficiencies.
  • Mitigation of challenges: Anticipating potential obstacles and devising strategies to overcome them ensures a smoother modernization process.

Embracing modernization: Strategies and approaches

Active Directory's underlying role in the modern enterprise cannot be overstated. Its modernization is a strategic imperative that supports not just IT operational efficiencies, but also the broader business objectives of agility, security and compliance. Enterprises must proactively approach AD modernization, viewing it as an opportunity to enhance their IT infrastructure's resilience and adaptability for the future.

Modernizing AD is not a one-size-fits-all process. It may involve leveraging cloud services for greater flexibility, adopting automation for improved efficiency, or integrating advanced security solutions for better protection. A phased approach, prioritizing critical areas first, can make the process manageable and effective. Ongoing optimization and management are crucial for maintaining the health and security of the AD environment post-modernization.

Enterprises are encouraged to critically assess their AD services, recognizing the strategic value of modernization. Engaging with this process thoughtfully will ensure that the backbone of your enterprise IT not only meets the demands of today but is prepared to support the innovations of tomorrow. Seeking expert advice and adopting a strategic, phased approach will pave the way for a successful AD modernization journey, unlocking new potentials for efficiency, security and growth.

Connect with WWT's advisory team to modernize your Active DirectoryRequest assessment