Technical and Product News and Insights from Rackspace
Microsoft Office 365® offers a wide assortment of great features to improve productivity, collaboration, security, device management, and so much more. For IT people, this adds another layer of management, including how to manage those users.
Note: This post is specifically for companies using Exchange solely as a Management server. It does not pertain to companies using a full Hybrid Exchange configuration with on-premises Exchange and Office 365.
You can manage users in Office 365 through many methods, but this brings up the question: what is the best solution based on your current configuration and what you need to manage? Microsoft Azure® Active Directory Connect (AAD Connect) is a great solution when you need to use your on-premises Microsoft Active Directory with your Office 365 tenant.
When you enable AAD Connect for a tenant and synchronize a user from on-premises Microsoft Active Directory, you must manage most of the attributes from on-premises because you can’t manage them from Exchange Online. There are third-party methods or ADSI Edit to manage these attributes on-premises. Still, Microsoft states the supported hybrid method is to use an Exchange Management server in addition to your Active Directory. You primarily use the Exchange Management Server (EMS) to synchronize the Exchange attributes of your Active Directory users by extending the schema in Active Directory and provide an interface to manage these attributes easier (Exchange Admin Center).
Some Exchange attributes include the following:
It’s best practice to stand up an additional server (physical or virtual) to run EMS. Luckily, this doesn’t require the same amount of resources compared to Exchange servers hosting actual production mailboxes. Using a lightweight VM and the Hybrid Configuration with Office365 drastically reduces operational costs. EMS still requires Windows licensing costs but does not require Exchange licensing as long as you are running Exchange Server 2013, 2016, and mailboxes are solely on your Office365 tenant. If you have any questions on licensing, consult Microsoft or your licensing specialist for correct guidance.
The specification depend on the Exchange version, but we suggest using Exchange 2016 (Exchange 2019 isn’t currently free) with the following specs:
Keep the following tech tidbits in mind:
Using an Exchange Management server in addition to your Microsoft Azure Active Directory Connect is currently the best option for managing your Exchange Online users in Office 365. You can manage your users much easier outside of ADSI Edit or other third-party tools with the Exchange Admin Center GUI and Exchange Management Shell. While an on-premises Exchange Management server has other benefits, such as mail relaying, this configuration does have its flaws. Admins must pay the additional overhead infrastructure and Windows Server licensing costs, and it requires additional knowledge of the on-premises Exchange, which will become obsolete in the near future. Microsoft is looking to remove this requirement in the future, but in the meantime, EMS is your best hybrid solution option for ease of use and minimized costs. Looking further ahead, consider ditching on-premises identity management and switching to Cloud-Only Identity and Access Management.
There are many advantages to cloud computing and cloud-based identity management. Check out our article Cloud Computing Advantages for more details.
Looking for a Hybrid Solution or switching to Cloud Only? Rackspace Technology’s Office 365 Transformation Services are here to take the hard work off your plate in your transition to Office 365.
Use the Feedback tab to make any comments or ask questions. You can also click Sales Chat to chat now and start the conversation.