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Connecting Office 365 to an Identity and Access Management Solution

By January 20, 2015Article

Cloud solutions like Office 365 offer users many benefits such as allowing network administrators to take the burden of maintaining servers off their plates by putting their document management, mail servers and instant messaging solutions into the cloud. Additionally, as a solution set, it allows users to interact with their company while out of the office and from anywhere around the world, leading to more productive employees. These are just a couple of the benefits Office 365 in the cloud offers. However, if you and your organization are going through the effort of setting up a cloud-based system to improve the productivity of employees, shouldn’t you also take the time to do the same for your IT department? 

Organizations can easily take the next step with an Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution to easily automate the creation, deletion and updating of accounts between your HR technologies Active Directory and your cloud solution. 

This will free up time for IT staff and allow any new employees to have accounts created and maintained for them in a matter of minutes instead of days, which, with your cloud solution, allows employees the ability to access documents and email from anywhere. 

Synchronized security 

Taking this approach, there’s also little to worry about from a synchronized security approach. With an IAM solution that connects HR, Active Directory and the cloud solution, an organization’s manager can de-provision users just as quickly as they were provisioned. This ensures that employees who are no longer with the company can no longer access any of the company’s systems or applications, and their account access is disabled as soon as they leave the organization. 

Cloud-based solutions that tie into your organization’s IAM solutions save your IT staff time and money. It allows them to do more productive tasks since they no longer have to create accounts in multiple solutions for every new employee. This also saves your newly hired employees time and allows them to focus on other tasks, since they don’t have to wait for their account to be created in all the solutions. 

A number of organizations recognize the benefits of cloud versions of solutions like Office 365. The reasons are simple. Their staff have known and used Office for years. The power of the cloud version of the product is that employees can work with the Office programs and files from almost any location and device, a huge advantage from a productivity standpoint.

Crucial step: Active Directory 

Connecting an IAM solution to streamline access management for employees by their role type with the cloud-based solutions is a process usually handled through Active Directory, which can be used to allocate internal resources as well as cloud resources. Before organizations perform this synchronization, they need to be aware of how crucially important it is to first clean up the Active Directory and remove all inactive user accounts. Transferring inactive accounts to the cloud needs to be prevented because inactive accounts create unnecessary costs and consume capacity pointlessly. 

Cleaning up Active Directory can be made simple by establishing a connection between the HR system and the Active Directory. By using a solution that matches employees who have been entered in the HR system and are actively employed, an organization can find associated Active Directory accounts for 80 percent or more of the staff. The other accounts may need to be matched manually, but the outcome results in inactive user accounts not being needlessly copied into Office 365 from the Active Directory. 

Following these steps, an organization can create a clean cloud with proper access rights for employees. 

Dean Wiech is managing director of Tools4ever, a global provider of identity and access management solutions.











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