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05 May 2016

Azure Active Directory Connect Health for AD FS: Stress-free set-up and monitoring

Jamie Vaughan

Microsoft has created Azure Active Directory Connect Health for AD FS to help relieve the administrative burden placed on operations.

Readers who have the operational responsibility of managing AD FS will know first-hand the pain of monitoring servers for performance problems. In addition, you need to keep your audit or security department happy with reports of bad login attempts. Don’t forget, you’re also expected to know if there is a service problem when you are away from your desk.

It keeps you busy – and I’m sure more than a little stressed.

 

What is Azure AD Connect Health for Active Directory Federation Services?

Azure AD Connect Health consists of an agent which is installed onto each of your AD FS and WAP servers. The agent gathers information about various elements of the local machine, AD FS and WAP, and this is periodically sent to your Azure AD Connect Health instance. This is held within your Azure tenancy. The Azure AD Connect Health dashboard displays the data from your AD FS farm in various charts and tables.

 

Monitoring your AD FS infrastructure with Azure AD Connect Health

As soon as you open the dashboard you can see the status of your AD FS farm(s):

Selecting your Active Directory Federation Services farm opens a new blade where you can see customisable monitoring charts (see screenshot below). This shows the performance of each server, including how many token requests per second. There are also usage charts that show how many tokens have been issued per application, so you can actually see which applications are being used the most.

Alerts

Within the ‘Alerts’ section, you can quickly see any issues. When you select an issue, it shows current information and any known fixes to resolve it. You can also configure email notifications by clicking the ‘Notification Settings’ button. This lets you notify your operational personnel as soon as a health alert is received. This could mean the difference between having an easy day or a very difficult one.

Role-based access control

You can assign roles to users who may have an interest in Azure AD Connect Health. For example, you may want to give your auditing department ‘Reader’ access. This means they can view the dashboard but not make any changes. However, your AD FS operations staff will want to be ‘Owners’. This lets them configure it to their own requirements.

Installation

The agent only take a few minutes to install and does not need any additional hardware. However, you will need to enable AD FS auditing if you haven’t already done so. You can do this by running the following line in an elevated PowerShell prompt on each of your AD FS servers:

auditpol.exe /set /subcategory:”Application Generated” /failure:enable /success:enable

The following line will also need to be run on your primary AD FS server (also in an elevated PowerShell prompt) to complete the process:

Set-AdfsProperties -LogLevel Errors,FailureAudits,Information,Verbose,SuccessAudits,Warnings

The agent install can be downloaded from your Azure AD Connect Health portal (look for the ‘Getting started’ blade). An Azure AD organisational account – that is either a ‘Global Admin’ or has the ‘Owner’ or ‘Contributor’ role assigned to it in Azure AD Connect Health dashboard – is required in order to perform the install. Azure AD Premium is also required in order to create the dashboard.

Azure AD Connect Health for AD FS is only one element of Azure AD Connect Health. There is also Azure AD Connect Health for Sync and Azure AD Connect Health for AD DS is coming soon.

Next, watch the Microsoft identity stack demos to see how Microsoft’s key identity management technologies enable seamless user creation journeys.

Or download ‘The business case for IAM’ e-Guide and become the driving force behind modernisation, cyber security and operational efficiency in your organisation.

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