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Active Roles 7.3.3 - Product Overview

Integrating with other systems

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.

Handling organizational changes

Handling organizational changes

Consider a company in the process of re-organization. Multiple departments are changing names, merging, or separating from one another. Such reorganization involves an increase in administrative, security, and business liabilities, as well as the high cost of manually updating data. This situation demands a means to automatically update and move the data.


Active Roles provides the ability to define administrative policies that make organizational changes easier to handle. By using Managed Units, rule-based overlays of the actual data in Active Directory can be set up for both the current and planned organizational structures. Administrative policies can be specified so that when data moves from one Managed Unit to another, policy definitions will automatically be applied, based on the change. This will update properties, such as the user’s manager, department, group memberships, and OU memberships.

As another example, consider a user who changes departments. Depending on the department to which the user moves, Active Roles could automatically move the user's data, change the user's group memberships, and specify to whom the user reports.