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Creating your Hybrid environment

The first thing that we need to do to get our hybrid identity environment up and running is to create a virtual machine that will be used as our on-premises Active Directory server.

To do this we will be using Azure Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to build out a single Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) domain controller. This environment will demonstrate hybrid identity and other capabilities that require an on-premises Active Directory.

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In this lab you will deploy an Azure Quick Start template which will automatically provision a single virtual machine and configure Active Directory for you. You will then secure remote access to this server using Azure Bastion.

Step 1. Create your virtual machine​

To simplify the deployment, an Azure Resource Manager (ARM) template will be deployed to build out the simulated on-premises environment. This template requires minimal input and will build out a single Windows 2016 server and install and configure a new Active Directory Forest.

  1. To start the deployment, log into https://portal.azure.com using a Global Admin account.
  2. Open a new Edge tab and navigate to this link which is the Azure QuickStart Template Create an Azure VM with a new AD Forest.
  3. On this Quick Start Template page click the Deploy to Azure button.

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  1. At the next screen, deployment details will be presented in the template, an option will be provided to customize some of the template details, such as changing the VM size, VM name, AD Domain Name, etc. Again, for simplicity keep the default and input details only into the required fields that are denoted with a red asterix, and which are self-explanatory.

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Note: Make sure to document the Admin Username and Password, as well as the Domain Name that is specified as this will be the name of the Active Directory domain and this information will be required to logon onto the domain controller once the deployment is complete. The Domain Name will be not used in the tenant and is not needed to be publicly resolvable in DNS, and so can be anything you like.

  1. At the bottom of the template click Review + Create.

  1. This will perform a quick validation test to ensure there are no problems with the input parameters of the template. Once the validation has passed click the Create button to begin the deployment.

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  1. The deployment typically completes in 15 – 20 minutes, once done click the Go to resource group button. The next step is to configure remote access to the VM via the Azure Bastion service.

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Step 2. Configure Azure Bastion for remote access to your VM​

This ensures that the level of risk is kept low for the VM we will not be opening RDP as doing so opens the VM up to RDP brute force attacks. Instead of using RDP to connect to the virtual machine Azure Bastion allows you to connect to a virtual machine using your browser (via the Azure portal) without having to open any ports to the VM itself, ensuring the VM is kept secure. To enable Azure Bastion:

  1. In the Resource Group click on the adVM virtual machine.

  1. At the top of the Virtual Machine page click Connect and then select Bastion from the drop-down menu.

  1. On the Create Bastion page that opens click the Create Azure Bastion using defaults button.

  1. Bastion will take a few minutes to create and configure itself, and once completed you can enter the required on-premises credentials to log into the VM.

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Whilst logged into the VM it is worth verifying that Active Directory installed correctly. To quickly do this, go to Start/Windows Administrative Tools/Active Directory Users and Computers and if the snap-in opens and displays the domain, it has been successful.

Step 3. Configure Auto-Shutdown​

To assist with conserving your monthly Azure spend, configure the VM to automatically shut down on a schedule.

  1. In https://portal.azure.com go the properties of the VM and under the Operations section click Auto-shutdown.

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  1. Select a desired time to shut down the VM and specify an email address to be notified when the machine has been shut down successfully. Click Save.

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Note: There is no automatic restart option by default, the VM will need to be manually started each time it has been auto-shutdown. A restart schedule for the VM can be achieved by using a combination of Azure runbooks and Azure Monitor as detailed here.

Azure Bastion will also consume a decent chunk of your monthly Azure credit, even when using the cheapest basic SKU as there is no option to stop/start the service when you don’t need it. The only way to reduce cost here is to delete the Azure Bastion resource and then recreate it again when you need access to the VM. Azure Bastion only takes a few minutes to provision, but you should factor this into your lab environment when you plan to not access your VM for a while.

Following the successful setup of the Active Directory environment, the next step is to provision users from AD to the tenant. In the spirit of keeping things simple the sync configuration will be through new the Azure AD Connect Cloud Sync agent as opposed to using Azure AD Connect.