The Road to SharePoint Deployment: Active Directory Authentication

Image credit: William Warby | Licensed under: CC BY 2.0

My name is Gino Rossi. I have a background that expands more than 12 years in web applications development and I am the Social Business Scientist at Quest. Today, I am working towards making SharePoint the most effective collaboration tool Dell has ever seen.

In my last post, I discussed how Dell tackled the first challenge of deploying SharePoint in an organization: authentication. Looking into the Active Directory authentication piece of our project, we had come to a cross road: should we authenticate against our Quest Group (DSG) Active Directory or our Dell AD?  After several months of aligning and upgrading some of our systems, we had decided to move to connect to Dell’s Active Directory. The choice had become clear once we examined the benefits of Dell’s Active Directory:

  • Everyone with a Dell.com or DellTeam.com email address could access platform.
  • Deactivating accounts for departed employees would be done at the AD level.

With the decision made, the next challenge arrived.

The Second Challenge: User Controls and Notifications

In order to continue on our timeline for SharePoint deployment, we had to sort out a few items in order to provide more controls to the users collaborating in the platform:

  • Gather from AD enough information to allow for people search.
  • Activate the "My Sites" section, which is closely linked to user data coming from AD.

With the above pieces working, we moved to convert user input into authentication and people search… making us turn our focus onto the notifications section. At this point, we found yet another set of complications. Although we were authenticating against the Dell Active Directory, we were still communicating with the DSG Microsoft Exchange server for notifications. We needed to figure out a way to communicate another domain to allow for notifications in and out of the platform. Connecting properly to our DSG Microsoft Exchange server took a few tries and some patience; but, not long after we were sending thank you notifications to our SharePoint team for its hard work. With this piece of the SharePoint puzzle in place, we could now:

  • Authenticate against the Dell Active Directory
  • Search for people from within our SharePoint 2013 platform
  • Receive notifications through our DGS Microsoft Exchange server

The Long Road Ahead: User Adoption

Following the completion of this segment of the project, we began to look more closely at user adoption and training.  Day by day we have seen a vibrant community begin to take shape as collaboration grows across DSG. We now share information with other folks within DSG and Dell, making silos a think of the past. But more questions lied ahead for our move to SharePoint.

We wanted to know, what is it like to host a major component of your internal collaboration strategy in the cloud?  I will discuss more AWS, no VPN, no Firewall and more in my next blog post.

In the meantime, you can read this eBook, “10 Steps to Cleaning up Active Directory User Accounts and Keeping Them That Way.” The eBook will discuss steps that use native AD features and common workflow technology such as Microsoft SharePoint.

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