Microsoft Active Directory (AD) authenticates every object in the Windows environment, so it is not just a piece of infrastructure but a security asset that needs to be managed, kept healthy, and secure.
What is the Active Directory (AD)?
The Active Directory (AD) is a Microsoft-created directory service for Windows domain networks. It manages network resources, such as user and group accounts and computer objects.
The Active Directory stores information about all the network objects, providing security and single sign-on.
It is included in most Windows Server operating systems as a set of processes and services that manage network resources. It enables users to log on to the network, access resources, and apply security policies.
Active Directory is used to authenticate and authorize access to resources and let administrators manage the network from a centralized console.
Importance of Active Directory management
Active Directory and Azure Active Directory are at the core of many successful identity management programs.
Active Directory is a crucial part of any business network, and Active Directory administration management is the key to keeping it running smoothly. That’s because Active Directory is responsible for storing and managing all the user accounts and computer settings in a Windows domain.
Without proper administration, an Active Directory deployment can quickly become a mess, leading to all sorts of problems, such as users being unable to log into their computers or applications not working correctly. That’s why having a good Active Directory administration management plan is so important.
Managing and securing an organization’s data can be challenging if a company does not have a plan for Active Directory administration management.
Without a plan, an organization risks data loss, security breaches, and compliance issues. An outline helps ensure that the Active Directory is properly administered and that data is protected.
Active Directory administration management includes creating and maintaining user accounts, setting permissions, and monitoring activity. While it may seem like a lot of work, proper AD administration management is essential to keeping your business safe.
Active Directory is a critical component of most networks as the single source for centralized Windows authentication and authorization. Unfortunately, managing and maintaining Active Directory can be complicated and time-consuming.
Need for an external tool to manage Active Directory
Because of the rise in cyberattacks and credential vulnerabilities, organizations are searching for ways to decrease their attack surfaces. Organizations are implementing security architectures based on zero trust due to the increase in breaches, according to a Cloudfare report.
According to Microsoft, 95% of the Fortune 100 Companies manage and store Identity and account data using Microsoft Active Directory and Azure Active Directory (Azure AD).
Although Active Directory and Azure AD are solid systems on their own, administrators can enhance their capabilities to build a reliable, safe, and zero-trust security infrastructure by utilizing third-party management solutions.
Organizations should look to increase Active Directory capabilities with toolkits that can boost the infrastructure’s efficiency and security in light of the development of cyberattack technologies.
In the following section, we will see the best AD tools and how they can assist you in monitoring, managing, securing, and administering your complex AD environment.
ManageEngine Active Directory Management Solution
ManageEngine Unified Active Directory is a comprehensive authentication, authorization, and access control solution. It enables administrators to centrally manage and monitor users, groups, and resources across multiple Active Directory domains.
ManageEngine is crucial for organizations that want to secure their identities, passwords, user profiles, and other critical data. Its tight integration with Active Directory makes it an ideal choice for comprehensive Active Directory management and reporting.
In addition, the solution provides a management console and reporting engine to be used to identify compliance and performance issues.
By automating the management of users and groups, administrators can improve the efficiency of their organization.
- Bulk user management
- Automatic user creation in AD, office, and Exchange
- OU and group-based delegation
- Office 365 and Exchange Management
- Automated stale account cleanup
- The granular level delegation model
ManageEngine is a comprehensive and powerful tool that can help administrators to manage end-to-end Active Directory environments more efficiently. It has standard and professional editions.
Solarwinds Access Rights Manager
Solarwinds Access Rights Manager (ARM) is an easy-to-use Active Directory (AD) and Azure AD user management and administration solution.
American Security Today’s ASTORS Homeland Security gave the Best Access Control and Authentication System award to Solarwinds Access Rights Manager.
It gives administrators more visibility and control over AD and Azure AD user provisioning and de-provisioning, which facilitates smoother onboarding and compliance.
It provides a web-based administrative interface, Granular access control, auditing for Exchange, and file servers. Additionally, it enables you to automatically grant and revoke access, allowing you to maintain system security without compromising anything.
A comprehensive range of tools for creating reports on user activities is also part of Solarwinds ARM.
- Delegation in Active Directory
- Tools for user provisioning that support SLAs
- Managing access to the files and folders in SharePoint
- Apply data protection regulations
- Automated and customized reporting
- Automated management of audits
- Enhanced transparency to reduce insider risk
By enabling you to manage who has access to what and track and monitor all access activities, Solarwinds ARM may assist you in securing your environment.
It is an affordable solution that is simple to implement and manage. The software is available in subscription and perpetual editions. It is open to testing free of cost for 30 days.
One Identity Active Directory administration
One Identity, originally Quest Software, is a business that sells software for managing and automating numerous IT operations, including Active Directory management.
When used in a hybrid deployment, this Active Directory administration solution provides a single console, unified processes, and a consistent administrative experience for both on-premise AD and Azure AD.
It enables administrators to swiftly provision and de-provision users, manage group membership, and handle other user account-related tasks.
Additionally, One Identity may assist in ensuring AD is configured safely and following business regulations. You can use the program to diagnose Active Directory problems as well.
- Automation of provisioning, group management, password management, etc
- Connectors to connect Office 365, Skype for Business, SharePoint, and many other services.
- It increases PowerShell, ADSI, and SPML’s functionalities.
- Templates to make provisioning quick and straightforward.
- Role-based access control
- Multi-factor authentication
On-premise and cloud versions of the OneIdentity Active Directory administration tool are both accessible. Before implementing the product into your live environment, you can test it out for 30 days without cost.
Netwrix Auditor for Active Directory
Netwrix provides end-to-end visibility into the AD environment. It’s crucial to regularly audit your Active Directory (AD) to keep your network safe and up-to-date. You may accomplish this automatically and methodically with the Active Directory Auditing Software from Netwrix.
The program can keep track of modifications made to AD objects and permissions. It can assist you in detecting and preventing unwanted access and promptly identifying and fixing any issues.
The software is a complete auditing solution that assists administrators in keeping vigilance on the entire Active Directory environment. It offers detailed logging, reporting, and analysis features that help administrators find and fix Active Directory problems.
- Comprehensive auditing of changes and logons
- Rapid notification of unsuccessful login efforts and AD modifications
- Checks on group policies
- Identifies suspicious behavior
The software’s purpose is to offer thorough and dependable Active Directory audits. It is a great web-based application for auditing your company’s Active Directory and assists in locating and tracking directory changes. It has a 20-day free trial period.
Quest Active Directory (AD) Management
Twenty years have passed since Quest began offering AD management solutions. Its website claims to have handled 184 million accounts, audited 166 million, and migrated 95 million accounts.
Due to its innovative solution, AD can be reorganized and consolidated during regular business hours without service interruptions. Its threat detection system alarms through real-time auditing of unusual or suspicious behavior.
The software helps automate tasks to simplify everyday tasks, eliminate human error, and reduce downtime. Its single console to monitor AD, Azure AD, or a hybrid AD infrastructure reduces security and compliance risks.
- Automation of GPO management and AD lifecycle management tasks
- Proactive monitoring of AD availability and health
- Reporting that is consolidated across on-premises, hybrid, and cloud.
- Forensic investigation and search similar to Google for speedier root cause analysis
Modern and advanced Quest AD management and migration software support the evolving AD environment of today. It ensures that the AD environment is secure, healthy, and error-free.
NinjaOne Active Directory Management
The NinjaOne Active Directory Management Suite ultimately administers the Active Directory of your company. You may increase security and streamline your daily tasks using NinjaOne.
It helps administrators to efficiently and effectively administer AD. Permissions for users may be assigned and managed, and reporting and email notifications let you monitor user behavior.
Any organization would benefit greatly from this product, which has several advantages. A number of its characteristics, including its user-friendly drag-and-drop interface, support for various AD procedures, and capacity to manage numerous AD environments, make it an excellent option for AD management.
- Administration of Users and Groups via Automation
- Advanced Role Management
- Provisioning of user accounts and access control
- LDAP Sync
- Advanced filtering and Reporting
Businesses of all sizes can benefit from NinjaOne’s Active Directory management solution since it is comprehensive and covers the whole lifespan of an organization’s Directory. Before being used in a live environment, the software can be downloaded and tested without charge.
Hyena System Tools
Active Directory (AD) and Windows system management program Hyena have won awards. It is a client-side application that executes server-side tasks. Hyena’s feature-rich software is appropriate for AD installations of all sizes.
Its centralized console administers the entire AD environment and streamlines the daily AD management tasks.
All activities perform using an explorer-style user interface, and all items have right-click context menus.
The console makes it simple to handle all of the AD objects, including users, groups, OUs, devices, sessions, processes, privileges, and many others.
- Advanced attribute management, filtering, and reporting
- Updates AD information quickly and easily in bulk
- AD import and update automation without the use of complicated scripts
- Active Directory searches are modified at every object level
- Safely make numerous modifications to the Directory
Regardless of the number of servers or AD users in the environment, Hyena’s licensing policy is related to the number of administrators utilizing the product. Its fully functional software can be tested free of cost for 30 days.
Free AD Tools
Microsoft Active Directory Explorer
You may explore an Active Directory (AD) database by using the graphical user interface (GUI) client known as Microsoft Active Directory Explorer (AD Explorer).
For administering your Active Directory (AD) environment, it offers a simple graphical user interface (GUI). All of the objects and attributes in your AD environment are organized in a comprehensive tree view that is part of it.
Additionally, you can access particular characteristics and object types via the menus. You may also use the advanced features menu to tailor AD Explorer to your requirements.
With AD Explorer, you can quickly inspect and modify the properties of items in an AD database, carry out essential administration operations like controlling group membership and updating user attributes, and examine security settings, among many other things.
Additionally, you may use AD Explorer to do bulk object activities, search for items, view the layout of your AD environment, troubleshoot AD, and more.
It is available for free download from Microsoft.
ManageEngine Active Directory (AD) Free edition
ManageEngine offers a free edition with a cap of 100 domain objects for managing Active directory infrastructure. The software creates more than 200 reports, manages AD computers, and manages AD users.
You can get it from ManageEngine.
Comprehensive Set of Free AD tools
ManageEngine’s free Active Directory tools will unquestionably aid Windows Active Directory administrators in efficiently managing all Active Directory Data.
The tools are:
- AD Query tool
- AD CSV generator
- Last logon reporter
- Terminal session manager
- AD replication manager
- AD LDS object management tool
These tools can be downloaded free of cost from ManageEngine.
Solarwinds Free Admin Bundle
In terms of scanning the AD and removing inactive users and computers over an extended period, Solarwinds offers a free tool to manage AD. Additionally, it provides bulk user import capabilities, saving time on creating those.
Download the free software from Solarwinds.
Active Directory Best practices
The following Quest advised methods are the best for maintaining Microsoft Active Directory (AD) in a stable state, latency-free, secure, and trouble-free:
- Establish a sound AD structure: Create a strong AD structure: Create a solid AD environment using domains, organizational units (OUs), schema, and standard terminology.
- Monitor service accounts regularly and keeps an eye on AD health
- Use change management to prevent unintended or unintentional changes to AD
- BCP (Business Continuity Plan) to be prepared with an appropriate backup and recovery process for AD restoration during breakdown.
- Automate routine AD operations to reduce human error
Since every business has a distinct size, structure, and demand, it is impossible to give a clear answer as to which AD management tool is the best.
Quest, ManageEngine, and Solarwinds are the market’s tried-and-true tools. Their substantial user base is evidence of their capacity to support a complicated AD system.
It is recommended to test the evaluation versions of the software mentioned above to determine which eligibility best meets your requirements.
Next, you can check out a brief guide about Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)