We know that integrating multiple users manually onto a hosted Exchange platform can be a burden. We also know that managing and synchronizing multiple users, mailboxes and passwords can monopolize a lot of time. That’s why we created ADSync, the Active Directory synchronization.

SherWeb customers that use ADSync with our hosted Exchange 2010 and 2013 solutions tell us that it is a real time saver. These users will be happy to hear that we will soon be releasing version 2.0 of ADSync, an enterprise-level solution that will include additional features and a few fixes to make your workload even easier and more efficient.

Not familiar with ADSync? This Q&A with Normand Bedard, one of SherWeb’s programmer-analysts, will give you a quick overview of the benefits of using ADSync with your SherWeb hosted Exchange solution: What ADSync is, how it works, any potential issues and what you’ll like about the new update.

What exactly is ADSync?

NB: ADSync is a tool that allows systems administrators to automatically synchronize the users of their Active Directory to SherWeb’s hosted Exchange platform. It automatically creates and keeps user profiles up to date in our control panel.

It also allows administrators to automatically create, delete and modify users and their mailboxes, and synchronize password changes directly in our hosted platform.

Why did SherWeb develop ADSync?

NB: SherWeb created ADSync in response to customer requests. More and more customers were telling us that integrating our solutions into their ecosystem was a burden. This was particularly the case for customers with a large number of internal users.

SherWeb’s development team designed the ADSync tool to make this integration process much easier. ADSync automates the process of creating users and mailboxes in SherWeb’s hosted platform by taking all the user profiles directly from your server’s Active Directory.

What are the main benefits of using ADSync?

NB: ADSync has many benefits, but two points stand out.

First, ADSync allows user passwords to be synchronized to SherWeb’s hosted platform. In other words, when a user changes a password on his or her workstation, this change is also automatically made on his or her hosted Exchange mailbox.

Secondly, ADSync automatically integrates users with our hosted platform. Not only does this significantly lighten this task for the administrator and make the process much faster, but it also minimizes manual errors.

How much time will it save?

NB: For the sys admin, the time savings of using ADSync depend on the size of the organization.

Naturally, for a company with only 5 users, the time required to install and configure ADSync won’t make the solution’s time savings initially obvious; but it will become more and more noticeable over time. On the other hand, for an organization that has 20 users, for example, the sys admin will save time right from the start by not having to manually create each user and their mailbox individually. In these cases, the time savings are immediate and much greater.

From the point of view of the user, they benefit from having their workstation’s passwords automatically synchronized. This is especially beneficial for users who work at an organization that has a security policy that requires them to periodically change their passwords. ADSync therefore makes this task more efficient by allowing users to use the same password without having to repeat the task manually in SherWeb’s hosted infrastructure for their mailbox. They simply have to change their password on their workstation. ADSync handles the rest.

How much does ADSync cost?

NB: The cost is $1 per month per user, the same as for an Exchange 2010 or Exchange 2013 mailbox.

Do administrators normally run into any problems using ADSync?

NB: Conceptually, ADSync is very simple. That said, it does require administrators to manually configure all the domain controllers of their Active Directory. There are about a dozen settings that have to be manually configured that depend directly on the sys admin’s infrastructure (IP address, network ports, type of mailbox when creating users, etc). Some administrators with limited experience with Microsoft’s Active Directory technology might encounter difficulties during the initial setup.

Even though they are very rare, almost all problems experienced by systems administrators are due to errors that occur during the initial setup. As a general rule, they can easily correct these errors themselves by consulting our ADSync documentation. Our technical support team is also available if they need help configuring everything properly.

Once the configuration is successfully completed, ADSync is completely automated and really doesn’t require any maintenance.

What’s in the new update?

NB: Until recently, ADSync was available only in the Beta version. The 2.0 version is an enterprise-level version and an improvement over the Beta. It has new features that were requested by our customers over the last few months.

For example, given the unique configurations of their Active Directory, many customers wanted to be able to synchronize more than one node and be able to apply LDAP filters on these nodes to maximize the accuracy of their synchronization.

This new version of ADSync now offers these features. It also corrects certain problems in the graphical configuration tool.

What do you like most about ADSync?

NB: As a programmer-analyst at SherWeb, I have to work with multiple passwords for different internal servers. Since we use ADSync on our internal Active Directory, it’s great to have one less password to manage: my mailbox password! I really couldn’t do without ADSync’s automatic synchronization of password changes.

Written by JP Mercier Employee @ SherWeb

JP is SherWeb’s community manager. He has been working for IT companies since 2010, in both the software and cloud computing industry. JP has a degree in communication and specializes in online marketing. As a good Canadian, he is (overly) polite and loves hockey.