The Evils of Active Directory

I need to be honest. I think Active Directory is a bit of a liability when it comes to the overall Microsoft product offering. There are some great products like TFS, Exchange, SharePoint and they all integrate with Active Directory.

The problem is that Active Directory basically requires organisations to own all their own infrastructure if they want to achieve single sign-on across all of these products.

Internally at Readify we are seriously looking at the costs of our IT organisation and we would love to be able to host Exchange with one hoster, SharePoint with another (not talking about SharePoint as a TFS dependency here), and probably self-host our TFS server, but possibly up on something like Server Intellect, or GoGrid.

The problem is that all the subtle AD dependencies in this products makes it difficult to really commit to that course of action. If we decide to install products in workgroup mode (or give them their own AD as required by the hosters) what are we exposing ourselves to in the future if one of the product teams decides to take a hard dependency on AD.

Where are the investments that Microsoft is making around technologies like CardSpace and simple Username/Password authentication over SSL in all their products which will allow their customers to distribute their IT assets in the cloud.

Until Microsoft takes multi-tenancy and hosting scenarios seriously its not going to be a reality for a lot of organisations.


7 thoughts on “The Evils of Active Directory

  1. Darren Neimke

    Mitch, you know where I sit on this. Would it solve some of the problems if people wrote authentication and authorization providers underneath these things that supported more open forms of ID management. I’m thinking of things like:

    * A CardSpace membership provider for SharePoint
    * A LiveID membership provider for SharePoint

    Then gradually repeat for CRM and some of the other server-based products.

    I’d love to see a hosted SharePoint scenario with a LiveID membership provider. That would be pretty cool right?

  2. Al

    What sorts of things are you referring to specifically, that requires physical ownership of the infrastructure? For instance, if I wanted to rent a Windows VPS – what couldn’t I do with that?

  3. Dan Eagan


    I came across your post and thought that my organization may be able to help you. We are the largest SharePoint hosting company globally and do a very good job at Exchange hosting as well.

    We can fully integrate it to your network.

    Feel free to contact me if you have additional questions,
    Dan Eagan
    Director of Sales
    FrontPages™ Web Hosting Network
    The #1 Rated SharePoint® Hosting Provider
    SharePoint | Exchange | CRM | Dedicated Servers
    St. Louis, Missouri
    636.600.8959 Direct
    636.600.8970 Fax
     866.780.4678 Toll Free Sales/Support
    * SharePoint Experts – 1st provider in the World to offer SharePoint (1999)
    * Fast Network – Fiber connections, SAS70 data centers
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  4. Pingback: Defending my thoughts on Active Directory « notgartner

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