Suppose a large company wants to introduce distributed administration, but wants to avoid the large costs involved in training their Help Desk and business units to correctly use complex administrative tools. In this situation, there is the need for an easy-to-use tool, to control what actions the Help Desk and business units can perform, and to enforce company policies and procedures.
Active Roles allows organizations to create Managed Units and to designate Trustees over those Managed Units. Trustees only see the objects to which they have access. They are given only the rights they need for the objects within these Managed Units, down to individual properties. Unlike native Active Directory organizational units, Managed Units provide virtual boundaries that span across domains and forests, offering more flexible delegation capabilities.
Delegating limited control over Managed Units efficiently eliminates the need for high-level administrative user ID's, allowing organizations to securely distribute administrative authority to local management. To improve network security and make distributed administration safe, Active Roles defines and enforces customizable administrative polices.
Active Roles allows organizations to safely implement administration for business units. If a company has a number of different business units, each of equal importance and each located in a separate office, a single network administrator could support all of the sites. Active Roles allows the company to create a single Managed Unit, giving an administrator control over users and resources that span multiple domains.
Integrating with other systems
Suppose a company wants to integrate its HR system, administration, and physical security to provide a workflow that reduces repetitive data. Normally, the HR team creates a user profile, the IT team also creates a user profile in Windows and Exchange, and the security team activates an access card for the new employee. The three teams do not synchronize with each another and instead duplicate their work. This results in increased administration costs and introduces security issues. For example, some individuals may no longer work for the company but may still have valid user ID’s and access cards. In this scenario, there is a need to integrate the company’s HR system and other systems, and to automate the execution of user provisioning tasks.
With Active Roles, a suitable property set can be established to include data from network data sources other than Active Directory. For instance, a property set might be configured to retrieve a user’s personal information from an HR database. When the user account is created, this data could then be passed to Active Directory and Microsoft Exchange. If these property values change, an update could be made to both Active Directory and to the HR system.
Active Roles also provides the ability to set up administrative policies that reduce the amount of input required to carry out a task. For example, when a user moves to a different location, Active Roles could automatically update the user's profile in the HR system, based only on the change to the user's site code or department in Active Directory. Additionally, when a user joins or leaves the company, their access card could automatically be enabled or disabled.
Managing a multi-forest
Managing a multi-forest Active Directory design
Suppose a host company has client customers who need to place domain controllers on their premises. In Active Directory, every domain controller holds a writable copy of the schema and configuration of the entire forest. Anyone with administrative or backup/restore rights on any domain controller, or physical access to any domain controller, could potentially disrupt the entire forest. For instance, they could attempt to circumvent Windows security, or they could edit the Active Directory database, and the changes would be propagated to all domains in the forest. To avoid such an incident, the company needs to create a separate forest for each client who requires domain controllers on their premises. Otherwise, the actions of one malicious user could affect directory service delivery for other clients in the same forest.
Having multiple forests increases the complexity of the Active Directory structure. This in turn leads to increased administration, as each forest needs separate directory service administration. In this case, there is a need for an administrative system that enables the cross-forest management of Active Directory.
Active Roles provides a unified management structure that can extend across multiple Active Directory forests. The Active Roles user interface provides a single interface for the management of Active Directory domains that belong to different forests. It offers administrative views (Managed Units) that can hold objects from multiple forests, thereby enabling the unified application of corporate rules and roles across forest boundaries.
With its ability to safely delegate administration in multi-forest environments, Active Roles provides the necessary level of control for the host company’s customers, while enabling the company to implement role-based security, and restrict the customers’ administrative actions based on corporate policies.
For security reasons, it may be unacceptable to have an administrative tool with the same level of rights as a domain administrator. This is because administrative access to an entire domain in a forest may be used to gain administrative access to the whole forest, via the elevation of privileges attack. Active Roles can operate in a multi-forest environment within a precisely defined scope of access to domains, with no special requirement to have administrative access to entire domains or security-sensitive containers. This addresses the need for a product that provides advanced administrative capabilities, while effectively preventing the elevation of privileges.
Simplifying Active Directory
Simplifying Active Directory structure
Suppose a company wants to design an Active Directory structure based on physical location. As a rule, the administration/IT department, business units, and Exchange team would each prefer to have a different structure. As a result, they agree to a compromise that doesn’t fully satisfy their requirements. Clearly, there is a need to simplify the Active Directory structural requirements.
In Active Roles, Managed Units allow organizations to achieve acceptable security boundaries without setting up extra domains or organizational units. This significantly simplifies the Active Directory structure and reduces security risks.
By using Managed Units for delegation purposes, Active Roles creates a rule-based overlay of Active Directory for administration. This simplifies the process of choosing an Active Directory structure. Different administrative tasks often require different OU structures. For instance, an OU structure designed purely for the delegation of administration differs from an OU structure shaped purely for Group Policy. It becomes much easier to design an Active Directory structure by using Managed Units to handle delegation issues.