Active Directory is essentially a service that enables the interconnection of a multitude of network resources. It is utilized by systems administrators to manage the different user accounts and devices internally within a specific network. Active Directory brings in an array of benefits such as centralization of resources and administrative control, increased security, one point logon access etc. However, executing AD operations manually can be laborious and tiresome. To leverage the productivity benefits out of AD, organizations are seriously considering automation in Active Directory operations. This blog explores the need for AD automation, and the tasks to automate in AD.

The Need for Automating Active Directory

The typical redundant workload of Active Directory administrators include tasks involving user provisioning/de-provisioning, categorical maintenance of the different user groups, workload from the administration of security etc. The key takeaway that can be achieved by automation is streamlining and standardizing the user provisioning/de-provisioning task. Besides it also reduces the efforts, time invested in maintaining the Active Directory manually – thereby ensuring optimal utilization of resources. Additionally, automation results in more effective and accurate compliance with security policies, better data integrity, and consistency as the human factor is removed from the equation.

Tasks to Automate in Active Directory

Since an Active Directory environment is dynamic in nature and presents itself with many tasks, the need to know the right tasks to automate is indispensable to reap the maximum benefits out of it.  For the same reason, there is no silver bullet when it comes to choosing the tasks for automation. However, the best bet to automate would be the following based on their redundant nature::

User Provisioning

For most Active Directory environments, you can always safely expect a string of new users – with or without replacing the existing ones. The more the new users, the more the workload is with respect to creating the new user accounts and providing access rights, mapping with their team, etc. The latter usually involves adding the users to the respective groups, granting access privilege to some folders, installing and activating the necessary software etc., and doing them manually each time could be tedious. The fact that creating a user account is potentially a necessity for every new user makes it an ideal task to automate.

Users Updating and Off-boarding

The workload on account of new users does not stop at merely automating the creation of new user accounts. Over the course of time, a number of other cases could also demand corresponding data changes in the Active Directory. They include promotion of job titles, department changes, work location transfers, new permissions/privileges for new projects etc. While it is not pragmatic to automate them completely, you can opt for automation after a manual initiation of those tasks. The same process holds good even for users off-boarding. Such accounts must be deactivated/disabled, segregated by having them moved to a separate OU and finally having all the granted permissions/licenses revoked.

Active Directory Cleanup

The data stored in the Active Directory can be rendered obsolete over the course of time. Such data typically include stale user accounts, unused data in mailboxes, empty OUs etc. Accumulation of such data over time without any cleanup processes can have an adverse impact on the overall Active Directory management.  Besides, they bring with them the risk of vulnerability to any external breaches and attacks. By scheduling tasks and generating periodic reports for the cleanup activities performed or approval requests for those activities that are to be performed, automating the Active Directory cleanup can well be done, and the results truly cherished.

Hence automating your routine tasks in Active Directory can shake things up and can result in significant benefits in the long run if done right. Automation is a necessity in the modern day Active Directory environment. ServiceNow’s Orchestration module comes in handy, and has powerful tools to help you automate your Active Directory.

Watch Demo on how to automate user creation in Active Directory using ServiceNow’s Orchestration module.

Kavin Elango

An Engineer-turned-writer and an avid technology lover, Kavin is particularly passionate about emerging technologies that directly impact our day-to-day lives. Off work, he’s a sports enthusiast who’s fond of detective stories.

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