Tag Archives: Azure AD Connect

Azure AD Connect Pass-Through Authentication

At Ignite 2017 it was announced that Pass Through Authentication (PTA) has reached General Availability (GA) so it is a fully supported scenario now.

But what is PTA? If Office 365 there are Cloud Identities, Synced Identities and Federated Identities. The first two are authenticated in Azure Active Directory, the last one is authenticated against on-premises Domain Controllers. For this to happen you need an ADFS infrastructure, consisting of multiple internal ADFS servers and multiple WAP (Windows Application Proxy) servers in the DMZ acting as ADFS proxies. Oh, and all servers need to be load balanced as well to provide redundancy and scalability.

PTA on the other hand is built on top of Azure AD Connect, and as such an interesting extension of the Synced Identities. PTA installs an agent on the Azure AD Connect server (AuthN agent) which accepts authentication requests from Azure AD and sends these to on-premises Domain Controllers. The advantage of authentication against on-premises Domain Controllers is that no passwords (or password hashes to be more precise) are stored in Azure Active Directory.

My first thought was how an authentication mechanism based on an asynchronous replication tool (Azure AD Connect synchronizes accounts every 30 minutes, and passwords within 2 minutes) ever be a reliable and safe solution. The last thing you want to happen is that you cannot authenticate to any service in the Microsoft cloud, because your Azure AD Connect server is busy doing other stuff (like automatically updating its engine for example ).

My second thought was how secure this could be. There’s no inbound connection to the Azure AD Connect server, there’s only an outbound connection on ports 80 (only used for SSL certificate revocation lists) and 443. And the communication itself should be secured as well, so…. But now that PTA is generally available more information becomes available, and things become clearer.

Authentication flow

For authentication to happen PTA uses a ‘service bus’ in Azure. The service bus is a standard Azure solution where application can store system messages in the service bus and where other applications can use these system messages. Using a service bus, you can create an asynchronous but reliable communication mechanism.

When logging to an Office 365 service the credentials are requested by Azure Active Directory, nothing new here. The credentials are encrypted and stored in the service bus. The AuthN agent on the Azure AD Connect server has a persistent connection to Azure AD and to the service bus, and retrieves the encrypted credentials from the service bus, decrypts them and presents them to the on-premises Domain Controller. The Domain Controller response (success, failure, password expired or user locked out) is returned to the AuthN agent and stored it on the service bus. Azure AD picks up this response and the user can continue working (or not of course, depending on the Domain Controller response).

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create Shared Mailbox in Exchange Hybrid

Every now and then I get a question regarding creation of Room- or Shared Mailboxes in Office 365 when Exchange Hybrid is in place.There are multiple solutions available, but at the same time there are some restrictions as well. In this blog post I’ll discuss Room Mailboxes, Equipment Mailboxes and Shared Mailboxes.

Room Mailbox

To create a room Mailbox in your hybrid environment create a user account for this room mailbox first. In this example I’m going to create a Room Mailbox called ‘conference room 1st floor’ and have it created directly in Office 365 (for your information, I’ve tested this with Exchange 2010 hybrid as well as Exchange 2016 hybrid).

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To create the Mailbox in Exchange Online, you can use the Enable-RemoteMailbox cmdlet in Exchange PowerShell. This will mail-enable the account in your on-premises environment and will automatically create a mailbox in Exchange Online the next time Azure AD Connect runs. For the Enable-RemoteMailbox cmdlet you need to use the -RemoteRoutingAddress (which should point to the Mailbox in Exchange Online) and for a Room Mailbox you have to use the -Room option. If you want to create a Shared Mailbox you can use the -Shared option, the result will be the same.

To create the Room Mailbox in Exchange Online we can use the following command:

Get-User -Identity Conference1 | Enable-RemoteMailbox -Room -RemoteRoutingAddress conference1@inframan.mail.onmicrosoft.com

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When Azure AD Connect has run, the account has been provisioned in Azure AD and the Room Mailbox has been created. It is visible in Exchange Online EAC and permissions can be granted to other users can manage the Room Mailbox.

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Resource (Equipment) Mailbox

To create a Resource (aka Equipment) Mailbox the process is very similar. First create a user account for the Equipment Mailbox in Active Directory and fill the appropriate attributes, like this:

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To create the Equipment Mailbox directly in Exchange Online, execute the following in PowerShell (on your on-premises Exchange server):

Get-User -Identity AVEquipment | Enable-RemoteMailbox -Equipment
-RemoteRoutingAddress avequipment@inframan.mail.onmicrosoft.com

equipment

Again, when Azure AD Connect has run, the account is provisioned in Azure AD and the Mailbox is created in Exchange Online:

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Shared Mailboxes

Createing Shared Mailboxes is a bit problematic, after all these years there’s still no option like -Shared when using the Enable-RemoteMailbox cmdlet in Exchange PowerShell so we have to figure out another way to create a Shared Mailbox in Exchange Online when using Azure AD Connect and a Hybrid environment.

<more to come soon>

 

Moving from Exchange 2010 to Office 365 Part II

In my previous blogpost, I’ve discussed the prerequisites for moving from Exchange 2010 to Office 365 when using Directory Synchronization (using Azure AD Connect). In this blogpost I’ll discuss how to create an Exchange 2010 hybrid environment.

Exchange 2010 Hybrid

Now that Directory Synchronization is in place using Azure AD Connect we can focus on connecting the on-premises Exchange environment to Exchange Online, this a called an Exchange Hybrid Configuration.

Hybrid configurations can consist of Exchange 2010, Exchange 2013 or Exchange 2016 or a combination of versions, so it is possible to have an Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 coexistence scenario on-premises, and connect this to Exchange Online. However, when using multiple versions of Exchange in a Hybrid configuration there’s always add complexity, and when configured incorrectly you can get unexpected results. Therefore, I typically recommend using only one version, so if you’re running Exchange 2010 on-premises, there’s no need to add an Exchange 2013 or Exchange 2016 server to your configuration, just as a ‘hybrid server’. Despite what other people tell you, there’s no need to add a newer version, and Exchange 2010 Hybrid is fully supported by Microsoft. Better is to create an Exchange 2010 hybrid environment, and when the mailboxes (or most the mailboxes) are moved to Office 365 upgrade your existing Exchange 2010 environment to Exchange 2016. But that might be an interesting topic for a future blog post Smile.

Basically, we will create the following configuration (again, there is no Exchange 2016 server installed in the existing organization):

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Figure 14. Exchange 2010 hybrid configuration.

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Moving from Exchange 2010 to Office 365

There are a lot of articles on the Internet on how to create a hybrid environment, where Exchange 2016 is connected to Office 365. Now that’s fine, but when you’re running Exchange 2016 you most like are NOT going to move to Office 365 anytime soon I guess. If you are running Exchange 2010 chances are that you will move to Office 365 (soon), but there aren’t that much articles about moving from Exchange 2010 to Office 365. And a lot of the articles available don’t have the right approach I’m afraid, and will result in you (the customer) having to pay way too much money to your system integrator.

In this article, I’ll try to outline the recommended approach when moving from Exchange 2010 to Office 365 in a hybrid scenario. With Azure AD Connect for synchronization purposes. Cliffhanger: I’m not going to install Exchange 2016 into the existing Exchange 2010 environment Smile

Existing Exchange environment

Our organization is called Inframan and they have their own on-premises Exchange 2010 environment which they have been running for 5 years now without too much issues. There are internal Outlook clients using Outlook 2010 and higher, and there are external clients using Outlook Anywhere. There are also mobile clients using ActiveSync to connect to their Mailboxes. Of course, there is Outlook Web Access, but POP3 and IMAP4 are not used.

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Figure 1. Overview of the Inframan Exchange 2010 environment.

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Azure AD Connect Unable to update this object

In earlier blog post I explained how to create user account on-premises and accompanying Mailboxes in Office 365. This is possible with or without an Exchange server on-premises. The latter works, but it’s not supported.

There are also scenarios where you have cloud identities in Office 365 that you want to connect to user accounts in an on-premises Active Directory, so basically converting the cloud identity to a synced identity. This is a common scenario for example when moving from one tenant in Office 365 to another tenant, of maybe when moving from Groupwise or Notes to Office 365.

Suppose we have a cloud identity in Office 365 for a user named Chong Kim, he has an E3 license, a username ckim@exchangelabs.nl and this is also his primary SMTP address.

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