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From Active Directory to Public Cloud: Extending OUs and GPOs for Seamless IT Administration

From Active Directory to Public Cloud: Extending OUs and GPOs to the Cloud for Seamless IT Administration

The evolution of Microsoft’s Identity and Access Management strategies has been a fascinating journey to watch. From the on-premise days of Active Directory with Organizational Units (“OUs”) and Group Policy Objects (“GPOs”), we’ve moved into the era of Pubic Cloud with Microsoft 365 and Administrative Units (“AUs”). However, not all organizations are ready to leave behind the familiar structure of OUs and GPOs. In this blog, we’ll delve into this subject and explore how Nuvolex and the ManageX platform allows the extension of OUs and GPOs to SaaS applications like Microsoft 365 and beyond.

The Legacy of OUs and GPOs

OUs and GPOs have been the backbone of managing users and on-premise applications in AD for many years. OUs provide a hierarchical structure to organize users and resources, while GPOs offer fine-grained control to enforce various policies.

When Microsoft introduced Microsoft 365, they moved to a different model, adopting AUs for Azure Active Directory which lacks the same policy enforcement that was provided by GPOs. This shift might work for organizations that want all resources residing in the cloud. However, with the lack of GPO functionality and the need to have user identities remain on-premise, many organizations aren’t looking to fully migrate to the cloud, but want to leverage their familiar on-premise management paradigms in the cloud.

The Case for Extending OUs and GPOs to the Cloud

Retaining the concept of OUs and GPOs and extending them to the cloud has some compelling arguments in its favor:

  • Familiarity and Consistency: IT administrators are well-versed with OUs and GPOs and have well defined GPO models that they rely on to support their organization. These same GPOs should be available for managing cloud-based applications as well.
  • Granular Control: GPOs offer detailed control over policy enforcement. The ability to leverage this granularity in the cloud provides a more scalable management environment.
  • Hybrid Identity Management: With hybrid IT becoming more common, having the same management structures on-premise and in the cloud streamlines user administration and enhances IT administrator efficiency.

Nuvolex ManageX Platform: Bridging the On-Premise and Cloud Gap

Nuvolex seamlessly bridges the gap between traditional AD OUs/GPOs and how Microsoft 365 is managed in the cloud. The ManageX platform enables organizations to automatically extend the concept of OUs and GPOs into Microsoft 365, allowing IT administrators to manage their users in M365 with the familiar hierarchical model and policy enforcement that they’re accustomed to with AD.

The ManageX platform mimics the same concepts and functionality that was previously provided by Active Directory OUs and GPOs, but for managing M365 and beyond. Administrators can manage user settings and configurations across their Microsoft 365 tenant in a way similar to GPOs, maintaining granular control over policy enforcement in the cloud. 

If using ManageX and adding users to AD OUs, those identities will not only be assigned to the resources and policies that are tied to their assigned on-premise OUs, they’ll also be automatically assigned to all the proper M365/SaaS licenses and policies enabled by ManageX OUs and GPOs.

Beyond the Extension: Automating for Efficiency

Nuvolex ManageX goes well beyond merely extending the OU and GPO model into the cloud. It also has many advanced automation capabilities both at the User and Tenant level that can greatly enhance IT administrator efficiency. By automating repetitive tasks, it allows IT teams to manage more users and cloud services without increasing the burden on Enterprise IT resources. It’s not just about bringing the old into the new; it’s about enhancing and optimizing Enterprise IT environments for a cloud-first world.  ManageX blends the best concepts of on-premise user and application administration and extends it effortlessly into the cloud.

The Future of IT Management in the Cloud World

While Microsoft’s shift to AUs in Microsoft 365 marked a departure from the traditional OU and GPO model, Nuvolex provides a solution for organizations wanting to retain their familiar on premise user management practices but extend it into the cloud world. By extending the concepts of OUs and GPOs provided by the ManageX platform into all things Microsoft 365 and beyond, IT teams can ensure administrative consistency, continue to leverage the granular control they are used to, and manage their hybrid identities much more efficiently.

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