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What is hybrid identity?

In the rapidly evolving landscape of modern technology, businesses are adopting a blend of on-premises, private and public cloud infrastructures to meet their diverse needs.

This hybrid approach offers flexibility, scalability and cost-effectiveness. However, it also introduces significant challenges, particularly in terms of security and identity management. 

As data and applications are no longer confined to a single location, the traditional security and identity controls fall short. You can’t use a firewall, VPN, network access control or traditional IAM solution to secure your hybrid environment.

Users expect a secure and seamless way to access both cloud-based and on-premises applications, irrespective of their physical location. Traditional identity management solutions cannot provide this either, as they are designed to cater to a single environment. This is where hybrid identity comes into play.

Hybrid identity management solutions provide businesses a seamless and frictionless way to enable user access to all applications and data, regardless of where the data or application is located.

By bridging the gap between cloud and on-premises environments, hybrid identity management  solutions provide a cohesive identity experience for businesses and their users.

How does hybrid identity management work in AD & AAD?

In a hybrid environment, businesses may manage their identities across the on-premises Active Directory (AD) and the cloud-based Azure Active Directory (AAD). A seamless hybrid identity management solution enables users to use the same set of credentials to access resources in both AD and AAD.

The two main steps to implement hybrid identity are provisioning and synchronization. Provisioning is the process of creating and managing user accounts in both AD and AAD. Synchronization is the process of ensuring that identity information stays the same across AD and AAD.

There are many ways to provision and synchronize identity data across AD and AAD. You could write an adapter application that integrates with both directories, and periodically synchronizes their data to ensure inter-directory integrity.

Or you could use Azure AD Connect, which is a purpose-built tool to synchronize user accounts and passwords between AD and AAD. It will allow users to sign into both environments using their AD credentials.

Another way is to implement identity federation. Identity federation allows users from one domain to authenticate to another domain. In the context of hybrid identity, identity federation enables users who are already authenticated in the on-premises AD, to seamlessly access resources in AAD. This is achieved by establishing a trust relationship between the AD and AAD.

Benefits of hybrid identity management

Hybrid identity management solutions several benefits for businesses:

  • Increased security: It improves security by unifying identity management. This makes it easier to track and govern user access and protect sensitive data.
  • Improved user productivity: It improves user productivity by eliminating the need for multiple logins.
  • Reduced costs: It streamlines administration and eradicates the need for duplicative identity infrastructure. This results in reduced operational costs and increased efficiency.
  • Compliance and auditing: It simplifies and fast-tracks compliance efforts by allowing businesses to apply uniform identity policies and security controls across environments.
  • Seamless cloud adoption: Hybrid identity catalyzes the transition to the cloud without disrupting existing on-premises operations.


Hybrid identity management is the modern way to secure distributed IT infrastructures. It enables businesses to manage identities centrally, decreasing their attack surface and total cost of ownership. Moreover, it offers a seamless and secure login experience to users, combining convenience with robust security measures.

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