How to Configure Azure Active Directory Domain Services – Part 1
Azure Active Directory (AAD) Domain Services allows organizations to “lift-and-shift” apps that use on-premises AD for authentication to the cloud, extending the capabilities of AAD to provide many of the features of on-premise Windows Server Active Directory (AD) but without the effort of installing domain controllers (DCs), setting up ExpressRoute or a VPN to connect on-premise DCs to Azure.
Domain Services extends AAD to support Kerberos, NTLM, Group Policy, domain join, LDAP bind and read, Secure LDAP, custom domain names, DNS management, and custom Organizational Units (OUs). In addition to these features, it provides high availability, account lockout protection, and management using familiar tools.
In the first part of this two-part series, I’ll show you how to set up Domain Services in Azure and configure DNS. In the second part, I’ll discuss password hash synchronization requirements and how to perform a domain join operation.
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Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.
Set Up Domain Services in Microsoft Azure
Before you can set up Domain Services in Azure, you’ll need an Azure subscription and at least one Azure Active Directory tenant. It’s also worth noting that Domain Services isn’t available in all regions. To check availability for the region you intend to work in, see Microsoft’s website here. If you’re not familiar with Azure AD, check out What is Azure Active Directory? on Petri.
Let’s get started and deploy a new Domain Services resource in Azure. Log in to Azure and follow the instructions below.
- Click + Create a resource on the left of the Azure management portal.
- In the search box in the New dialog, type domain services, and then select Azure AD Domain Services from the list.
- In the Azure AD Domain Services pane, click Create.
- In the Basics pane, under the Resource Group dropdown menu, click Create new. In the popup dialog, enter a name for the new resource group and click OK. I’ll call my new resource group ‘aadds’. Optionally, you can change the subscription, location, and DNS domain name. In this example, I’ll leave the default settings. Click OK to continue.
- In the Network pane, click Select a virtual network. In the Choose virtual network pane, click + Create new.
- In the Create virtual network pane, leave all the default settings and click OK.
- Click OK again in the Network pane.
- In the Administrator group pane, click AAD DC Administrators
- In the Members pane, click + Add members.
- Select one or more users and then click Select. Click Refresh in the Members pane. The user(s) you added should be displayed. You can always add users to the AAD DC Administrators group at a later stage.
- Close the Members pane.
- In the Administrator group pane, click OK.
- In the Synchronization pane, decide whether you want to sync all users from AAD to Domain Services, or select groups. For the sake of simplicity, leave the default setting of All and click OK.
- In the Summary pane, check the details are correct and then click OK.
It will take a few minutes to create the Domain Services resource. You should get a notification in the top right of the Azure management portal when the deployment has completed. If not, refresh the console in the browser.
Now we need to update the DNS configuration for the VNET so that VMs can find the new domain. If you are not automatically redirected to the Overview page for the new Domain Services resource, you’ll need to manually find it.
- Click All resources in the left pane of the Azure management portal.
- Find the new Domain Services resource in the list and click it.
- Under Update DNS server settings for your virtual network, click Configure.
Any VMs that are running will need to be restarted to pick up the changes to DNS configuration.
In the second part of this series, I’ll show you how to make sure that password hashes are synchronized from AAD to Domain Services, and how to join a Windows Server Azure VM to the new domain.