Last Updated on September 9, 2020 by Dishan M. Francis

User names and passwords are the most common way of controlling access to applications. Nowadays we use more and more applications. These applications can be from on-premises or cloud. Unless there is a central identity management system, users will have to maintain different usernames, passwords to access these applications.
Azure Active Directory is a powerful, reliable cloud-based identity and access management service. It can use to manage identities and access for cloud applications as well as on-premises applications. If we already have a Windows Active Directory environment, using Azure AD connect we can sync on-premises identities to Azure AD. Azure AD Connect supports various Windows Active Directory topologies. More information about these supported topologies can be found here.
However, In Azure AD connect, synchronization and provisioning from AD are managed in the on-premises level. This can be a complex task especially if you have multiple AD forests. To simplify the hybrid identity synchronization process, Microsoft now has Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning. With this solution, Microsoft will manage provisioning from AD and synchronization as part of the service. In on-premises we only need to install light-weight agents which will act as a bridge between Azure AD and Windows AD.

Apart from the simplicity, Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning gives the following benefits,

• Allow Azure AD synchronization from multiple disconnected on-premises AD forests.
• Multiple agents will provide high availability for password hash synchronization.

What are the differences between Azure AD Connect and Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning?

Feature Azure AD Connect Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning
Synchronize multiple disconnected on-premises AD forests NO YES
Synchronize single on-premises AD forest YES YES
Synchronize multiple on-premises AD forests YES YES
Synchronization Based on Agents NO YES
Multiple Agents for High Availability NO YES
Synchronize with LDAP YES NO
Synchronize Users, Groups, Contacts YES YES
Synchronize device objects YES NO
Synchronize Exchange online attributes YES YES
Synchronize extension attributes 1-15 YES YES
Synchronize customer defined AD attributes YES NO
Support for federation YES YES
Seamless Single Sign-on YES YES
Support for Pass-Through Authentication YES NO
Support for Password Hash Sync YES YES
Support for writeback (passwords, devices, groups) YES NO
Azure AD Domain Services support YES NO
Exchange hybrid writeback YES NO

Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning Setup

In this blog post, I am going to demonstrate how to set up Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning with Windows AD. In my demo environment, I already have Windows AD configured with domain

windows active directory configuration

Let’s go ahead and start the configuration process by installing the Azure AD Connect provisioning agent.

Installing Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning agents

1. Before Installing agents, make sure you have outbound access with TCP port 80 and 443 to Azure AD.

2. Log in to the server as Domain Admin

3. Go to Azure portal (

4. Then search for Azure Active Directory and click on it

search azure active directory

5. In Azure Active Directory service page, click on Azure AD Connect

azure ad connect option

6. Then click on Manage provisioning (Preview) option

Manage provisioning (Preview) option

Note: At the time this article was written, this feature is in the preview stage

7. In the next page, click on Download agent

download Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning agents

8. It will open up a new window, click on Accept terms & download to begin agent download.

start downloading agents

9. Once the agent is downloaded, run it as Administrator. Click to accept terms and conditions. Then click on Install to begin agent installation.

Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning agent initial installation page

10. Once the installation is completed, the configuration wizard will open. On the first page, log in to Azure as a global administrator.

Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning agent Azure AD Authentication

11. In connect Active Directory page, click on Add Directory

add windows AD directory

12. Then in the new window, provide domain admin account login details and click on OK.

Windows AD domain administrator account details

13. Once account verification is completed, click on Next to proceed.

connect windows AD to Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning agent

14. Finally, click on Confirm to complete the configuration.

confirm Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning agent configuration

15. Make sure the configuration process completes without errors.

Agent installation completed

16. To verify the health of the agent, go to Azure AD Provisioning (Preview) page and click on Review all agents

Review all agents status

Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning agent status

Configure Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning

Now we have an agent in place, the next step is to apply a new configuration to it. To do that,

1. Go to the Azure AD Provisioning (Preview) page and click on + New configuration

Azure AD Provisioning new configuration

2. In the new page select the relevant domain under Active Directory Domain
3. Under Scope users, filter the users you like to sync. In this demo, I am going to sync all users.

scope of AD users

4. Also, make sure you have the password synchronization option is enabled.

5. In the Notification Email field, define the email address you like to receive notifications

6. In Deploy section click on enable to apply this provisioning configuration to users and groups assigned.

7. In the end, click on the Save button to apply the configuration.

Azure AD Provisioning settings

Azure AD Provisioning configuration health

8. After a few minutes, I can see the users are syncing from Windows AD

sync users to Azure AD


1. For testing, I have selected a one user account which is sync from Windows AD

synced user from Windows AD

2. Then I try to login to using this selected account. As expected, I was able to login to the portal successfully.

verify Azure AD login

This marks the end of this blog post. Hope now you have a better understanding of using Azure AD Connect cloud provisioning to simplify identity synchronization. If you have any further questions about this feel free to contact me on also follow me on twitter @rebeladm to get updates about new blog posts.