LDAP Integration with Active Directory

Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) is a vendor-agnostic application protocol that anyone can use to locate individuals, organizations, and other resources such as devices and files on a network. As an open-source protocol, it provides a standardized language that applications can leverage to communicate with other directory services like Microsoft Active Directory (AD) and Open LDAP.

An LDAP integration allows IT administrators to incorporate the organization’s knowledge base and existing LDAP servers. This enables them to streamline user data and automate routine administrative tasks such as creating user accounts and assigning them roles. This post explores LDAP integration with Active Directory, its components, and the challenges organizations face.

Functionality of LDAP Integration with Active Directory

Before diving into the specifics of how LDAP integrates with AD, it is important to understand what Active Directory is, and this includes understanding the differences between LDAP vs. AD. Active Directory is a database that organizes various IT assets such as users and devices, allowing such information to be shared on the enterprise network.

The primary function of AD is to enable IT teams to manage permissions and control access to corporate resources. The Domain Controller (DC) is the centerpiece of AD that determines how the protocol provides authentication and enforces the security policies. LDAP, on the other hand, is a core protocol behind AD that can transmit messages between the Active Directory and other parts of the organization’s IT infrastructure.

Usually, LDAP authentication-based services follow the client/server model, where the client is any LDAP-ready application that requests information from an associated LDAP database or server. You can initiate an LDAP session by connecting to an LDAP server—also called Directory System Agent—that listens for LDAP requests.

To integrate the organization’s AD infrastructure with LDAP, you’ll need to understand how the Active Directory and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol authentication ecosystem works. Essentially, this requires you to set up LDAP to authenticate the users’ credentials against AD via the BIND operation, which sets the authentication state for an LDAP session, allowing the protocol to connect to the server.

Two methods that you can use for LDAP-based authentication in AD include:

Once you’ve selected your LDAP authentication approach, you can use these two methods with whatever application you want. For example, you could use AD to manage permissions for the files, applications, and groups, with LDAP serving as a messenger for integrating with the rest of the systems.

By default, all LDAP-based authentication messages are usually transmitted in plain text, leaving the authentication processes vulnerable to security breaches. You can prevent this scenario by using encryption measures such as Transport Layer Security (TLS).

Components of a System When Using LDAP Integration with Active Directory

The essential components of an AD LDAP-based system include:

Basic LDAP Integration with Active Directory Authentication and Common Challenges

Integrating LDAP with AD provides an organization with a scalable and reliable solution for managing users, resources, and authentication in Windows-based operating system (OS) environments. However, like any other software tool out there, it has challenges that can be hard to overcome for two primary reasons. First off, it can be complex and time consuming to implement. LDAP-based authentication to Windows-based services has proven to be effective. However, the amount of time that IT administrators require to implement and customize the infrastructure to meet the organization’s ever-changing requirements can be significant.

Second, LDAP has been used primarily in on-premises setups, requiring dedicated servers that IT teams must integrate into an organization’s overall identity and access management (IAM) infrastructure. This kind of setup can be costly for an organization, especially for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) or cloud-first organizations. This problem can become even more compounded in remote-first working environments when an organization replaces its on-premises IT infrastructure with cloud-based services.

Parallels RAS LDAP Integration with Active Directory

Integrating LDAP and AD can help you streamline IAM operations in your organization by allowing users to authenticate themselves to on-premises and web applications in Windows OS environments. When properly implemented, LDAP integration with AD can help you implement a robust infrastructure that boosts the overall organization’s bottom line.

Parallels® RAS is an all-in-one virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution that integrates seamlessly with AD. IT administrators can install Parallels RAS in workgroup environments and AD where employees and the resources they connect belong to the same Windows domain network or multiple domains with different trust relationships.

Once installed, Parallels RAS allows IT teams to publish virtual workloads and deliver them to employees who use multiple heterogeneous endpoints. Employees can only access published resources only if they get authenticated against AD. The platform supports multi-factor authentication (MFA) mechanisms offered by various protocols such as RADIUS, DeepNet, and Okta, allowing employees to access their workloads securely.

Most importantly, Parallels RAS also supports Azure’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) as a hypervisor for hosting VDI. Using Parallels RAS on Azure IaaS allows organizations to scale their VDI workloads rapidly while streamlining IT administration tasks from a single pane of glass.

Try out Parallels RAS today to experience how simple and efficient it is to integrate with AD!

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