Microsoft's Active Directory is one of its most popular and most useful enterprise tools, allowing organizations to authenticate and authorize users and computers on a Windows network, and is an integral part of most enterprises' network management. So it was a no-brainer to add Active Directory services to Azure, which was great if you were starting from scratch, but not so great if you needed to integrate your local AD services into a complementary Azure service.
Microsoft tackled the problem with a number of tools, including Azure Active Directory Connect, AAD Sync, AD Federation Services (which allows AD services to interact with other non-Microsoft services), DirSync, and more. But users found those too confusing and difficult to manage, and now Microsoft has released an updated public preview of what they're calling the "new" Azure AD Connect:
Azure AD Connect is "new" because it is now one integrated tool that includes all the advances of AAD Sync and the features from the beta release of Azure AD Connect into simple, fast & lightweight solution. Azure AD Connect has everything you need to connect your Windows Server AD(s) and Azure AD with only 4 clicks.
Azure AD Connect isn't quite ready for production environments yet, but Director of Program Management for Microsoft Identity and Security Services Alex Simons expects production support, along with additional sync options and Dirsync migration within the next 90 days.
From now on, if you're looking to connect your Active Directories with Azure AD, Azure AD Connect will be Microsoft's "one stop shop" tool, replacing all of the other tools before it. You can download the public preview from our download link, below.