Forefront Identity Management Agent // IT Management Solutions

Forefront Identity Management Agent

Introduction

It’s hard to find a Windows environment that doesn’t rely heavily on Active Directory these days. Indeed, since the inception of AD in the late 90s and early 2000s it has become the de-facto directory of choice and the ‘single source of truth’ for logon credentials, username schemas, mailboxes and many other identity-related facets of an organization. Many organizations simply synchronize data from their HR system directly into Active Directory and populate a few fields of information, but how does this data get managed inside the directory? Provisioning and de-provisioning become a big issue, as is synchronization of credentials and automating workflows in other tools that rely on the directory. Forefront Identity Manager (FIM) 2010 simplifies a lot of these tasks while helping enterprises clean up their Active Directory environment as well. In this article, we’ll walk through some of the features and capabilities of FIM to help you decide if it’s right for your company.

What is FIM and what is it good at?

When evaluating Identity and Access tools, it can be difficult to decide how much to bite off and what an organization really needs from a requirements perspective. Large vendors offer very comprehensive suites of tools that are costly and often require a lot of specialized services to implement and fine tune. For many enterprises, a simple set of requirements emerge when looking at:

  • Data Synchronization. The FIM Synchronization service includes the meta-directory, the provisioning engine, and the management agents (MAs) (See Figure 1). It allows for synchronization between the FIM database and other identity sources in an organization.
  • Self-service password reset - Allowing users to reset their own password to avoid tying up helpdesk resources.
  • Provisioning and de-provisioning accounts in the directory.

FIM fulfills these requirements and has a relatively low cost of admission compared to other products on the market, especially for organizations that are Microsoft shoppers and have Microsoft skillsets within their IT team.

Figure 1: Management Agent creation / provisioning options (Source: technet.com)

Identity and Password Synchronization

Synchronizing Identities (particularly usernames and passwords) across multiple systems can be a quick win for an identity and access solution. Giving a user a single set of credentials to remember and manage makes it easier for them to get their work done, provides for faster provisioning and onboarding when users are accessing new systems and services, and allows for more efficient credential management in an enterprise environment.

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