Cloud Consultancy Services

Move from ADFS to Azure AD and evolve your identity strategy

Posted on March 2, 2023

Estimated reading time 5 minutes

Managing user access with heightened security measures is paramount in the modern work-from-anywhere economy.

According to Microsoft’s Security Defence Report 2022, password attacks have risen 74% in the past year alone, with an estimated 921 attacks occurring every second.

This is due, in part, to cyber criminals taking advantage of organisations deploying outdated on-premises and cloud identity tools such as ADFS (Active Directory Federation Services).

As far back as 2018, hackers have been able to exploit ADFS controls using methods such as ‘spray attacks.’ This is where criminals leverage email inbox synchronisation tools to obtain valid user credentials and steal sensitive company data.

Therefore, if you are still using ADFS as your identity service provider, you urgently need to upgrade to a more secure universal identity platform like Azure AD (Azure Active Directory).

This article will outline the four steps Azure experts like Atech take to help organisations migrate their ADFS workloads to Azure AD and in doing so overhaul their identity management strategy.

Benefits of ADFS to Azure AD migration

Many companies use a mix of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications alongside tailored business apps, Azure AD apps, Microsoft 365 tools, etc.

The key benefit of Azure AD migration over ADFS is that it can connect corporate-hosted services to Azure AD even if your on-premises infrastructures cannot access the cloud.

Some further benefits of migrating to Azure AD’s universal identity platform include the following:

Managing risk: A poorly architected ADFS can expose systems at multiple points of failure. Azure AD’s Conditional Access consolidates your security processes for your existing cloud-based and legacy applications, offering tighter controls. Azure AD also incorporates Conditional Access Policies, MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication), and Identity Protection tools.

Consolidating costs: For businesses with multiple IAM (Identity Access Management) solutions, Azure AD combines licensing and infrastructure costs, reducing your overall IT expenditure. In contrast, ADFS requires certificate maintenance, incurring scheduled downtime at regular intervals.

Boosting productivity: Azure AD offers self-service password reset functions, streamlines the Single-Sign-On (SSO) experience, and removes the need to configure point-to-point federation with partners, thus reducing your IT admin burden. ADFS, on the other hand, requires regular backups, monitoring, OS Upgrades, and more.

Improving data governance procedures: Azure AD migration makes it easier to comply with regulators, enforce access policies and monitor data usage through SIEM (Security Incident and Event Monitoring) tools. In addition, it more closely aligns with NIST 800-63b (i.e., it regularly scans for password breaches).

How to migrate from ADFS to Azure AD

If you are looking to move away from ADFS, it is strongly advised to seek the help of an Azure AD design and migration specialist.

Not all Azure service providers can access the latest Microsoft solutions and best practice. However, Atech carries advanced qualifications in cloud-based IAM solutions, helping you deploy best-in-class systems while maintaining your existing on-premises tools. Atech is a Microsoft Solutions Partner for Infrastructure (Azure), specialising in Infra and Database Migration as well as Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop and Networking Services.

With the above migration considerations in mind, here we have outlined the procedures for ADFS to Azure AD migration step by step:

Step One: Planning your Azure AD migration

All relevant stakeholders and managers need to be consulted on the migration project. As a highly-skilled Azure management provider, we can help you in this process.

Before determining the most effective path toward becoming a fully cloud-based organisation, we first examine your IT environment and consider your present licensing obligations. This crucial step ensures support from corporate executives.

Step Two: Prioritising apps in your Azure AD transfer

Once an organisation’s apps and technical requirements are plotted, work begins to classify and prioritise all assets.

We recommend migrating the lowest-priority apps first to minimise the impact on your daily operations. However, if urgency is a priority for your brand, we can plan the migration of your most-used apps first.

At this stage, it’s vital to collate the apps that best represent your business’s identity and security needs and prepare to migrate these in a separate pilot migration. Doing this will help you better understand your security needs, posture, and implementation plans.

Step Three: Migrate and Test

Begin migrating applications using the Azure AD apps migration toolkit. In addition, the Azure AD SSO deployment plan will help you complete the end-to-end process of Azure Ad migration.

For on-premises applications, use Azure AD Application Proxy deployment plan to migrate systems. You can also refer to Microsoft’s integration and registration best practices for advice on incorporating apps still in development with Azure AD.

When this process is complete, use the Azure portal to test the success of the migration.

Step Four: Set up management protocols and insights

Finally, migrate users to Azure Active Directory and prompt them to visit MyApps. Use Azure AD Connect and Application Proxy to provide relevant access based on individual device and identity credentials.

It’s also crucial to audit Azure AD performance from the Azure portal to monitor app usage and health.

Atech can help you establish Azure migration KPIs to measure your company’s success in the following areas:

  • Securing user access to apps
  • Automating provisioning
  • Delegating user access management
  • Delegating admin access

Once these steps have been completed, you can congratulate your team; your organisation is now truly in the cloud.

Atech are experts in Azure Active Directory migration services

Atech is proud to have recently gained Microsoft’s Advanced Specialization qualification in Windows Server and SQL Server migration of Microsoft Azure.

This means we’ve established our expertise in designing, implementing, and running Azure migration projects to industry-leading standards.

We also tailor our assistance in optimising your security procedures, costs, and infrastructure architecture based on the unique needs of your industry.

In facilitating full-scale digital transformation projects for a wide range of clients, we promise minimal downtime, no data loss, and ongoing assistance for the duration of your migration journey from ADFS to Azure AD.

So, if you want to become a cloud-only organisation, contact our team today.

How can we help?

As Microsoft accredited cloud service providers we’ve got the tools and talent to put the incredible potential of cloud technology at the heart of your operation.

Fill in the form to speak to one of our cloud consultants about your cloud project. Let’s get the conversation started.


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