What is Azure AD Connect cloud sync?

Azure AD Connect cloud sync is new offering from Microsoft designed to meet and accomplish your hybrid identity goals for synchronization of users, groups and contacts to Azure AD. It accomplishes this by using the Azure AD cloud provisioning agent instead of the Azure AD Connect application. However, it can be used alongside Azure AD Connect sync and it provides the following benefits:

  • Support for synchronizing to an Azure AD tenant from a multi-forest disconnected Active Directory forest environment: The common scenarios include merger & acquisition (where the acquired company's AD forests are isolated from the parent company's AD forests), and companies that have historically had multiple AD forests.
  • Simplified installation with light-weight provisioning agents: The agents act as a bridge from AD to Azure AD, with all the sync configuration managed in the cloud.
  • Multiple provisioning agents can be used to simplify high availability deployments, particularly critical for organizations relying upon password hash synchronization from AD to Azure AD.
  • Support for large groups with up to 50K members. It is recommended to use only the OU scoping filter when synchronizing large groups.

What is Azure AD Connect

How is Azure AD Connect cloud sync different from Azure AD Connect sync?

With Azure AD Connect cloud sync, provisioning from AD to Azure AD is orchestrated in Microsoft Online Services. An organization only needs to deploy, in their on-premises or IaaS-hosted environment, a light-weight agent that acts as a bridge between Azure AD and AD. The provisioning configuration is stored in Azure AD and managed as part of the service.

Azure AD Connect cloud sync video

The following short video provides an excellent overview of Azure AD Connect cloud sync:

Comparison between Azure AD Connect and cloud sync

The following table provides a comparison between Azure AD Connect and Azure AD Connect cloud sync:

Feature Azure Active Directory Connect sync Azure Active Directory Connect cloud sync
Connect to single on-premises AD forest
Connect to multiple on-premises AD forests
Connect to multiple disconnected on-premises AD forests
Lightweight agent installation model
Multiple active agents for high availability
Connect to LDAP directories
Support for user objects
Support for group objects
Support for contact objects
Support for device objects
Allow basic customization for attribute flows
Synchronize Exchange online attributes
Synchronize extension attributes 1-15
Synchronize customer defined AD attributes (directory extensions)
Support for Password Hash Sync
Support for Pass-Through Authentication
Support for federation
Seamless Single Sign-on
Supports installation on a Domain Controller
Support for Windows Server 2016
Filter on Domains/OUs/groups
Filter on objects' attribute values
Allow minimal set of attributes to be synchronized (MinSync)
Allow removing attributes from flowing from AD to Azure AD
Allow advanced customization for attribute flows
Support for writeback (passwords, devices, groups)
Azure AD Domain Services support
Exchange hybrid writeback
Unlimited number of objects per AD domain
Support for up to 150,000 objects per AD domain
Groups with up to 50,000 members
Large groups with up to 250,000 members
Cross domain references
On-demand provisioning

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