How-to Upgrade DirSync to Azure AD Connect (and move to a new server at the same time)Alex Fields
Many a small business using Exchange Online, Office 365 or other Microsoft cloud services has opted to enable Directory Synchronization–this means you can have the same credentials on-premises and in the cloud. Most commonly, this synchronization was achieved with a tool called DirSync. And wouldn’t you know it, that tool is now being deprecated, and will be retired a little less than 1 year from now (support ends in April 2017).
The process for upgrading DirSync to Azure AD Connect in-place is fairly straightforward. The installation wizard for AAD Conenct will detect your configuration, and automatically export your DirSync configuration and then remove the legacy application for you. However, if you want to upgrade and move to a new server simultaneously, there are a couple of additional steps to be aware of. You might be interested in going this route if your source server is 2008 R2 or older, for example–maybe you’d like to upgrade into something that can stick around for a bit longer like 2012 R2 (or soon, WS 2016).
I followed the process recommended for “parallel deployment” and it went flawlessly. Some field notes from my experience:
- The tool does require .NET 4.5.1 framework and PoSH 3.0–so you might need to update a 2008 R2 source server
- Recommend migrating to a member server running Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard or better*
- You cannot use the same MSSQL server/instance as your DirSync server (most SMB’s will probably just use the included SQL Express install anyway)
- Be sure you have your Office 365 admin credentials, as well as your DirSync service account credentials handy before you start
The upgrade / migration process:
- Install & run Azure AD Connect setup on the source server in export mode
- Install & run Azure AD Connect setup on the destination server in migration mode
- Uninstall DirSync from the source server & disable staging mode on the destination server
- Verify Directory Synchronization health
1. Source Server: Run Azure AD Connect in export mode
After Azure AD Connect is done installing on each server, just exit the setup wizard. You do not need to proceed to configure it. From the source server, go to Start > Run and execute the following command:
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure Active Directory Connect\AzureADConnect.exe" /forceexport
The wizard will then present you with the option to Export Settings from your existing DirSync installation. You can just choose a location accessible on the network to save the export file.
2. Destination Server: Install Azure AD Connect in migration mode
On the destination server, go to Start > Run or open a command prompt and execute (as admin):
"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure Active Directory Connect\AzureADConnect.exe" /migrate
This will enable you to import that same file. Browse to the network location and complete the rest of the wizard! You need to be able to sign-in to Office 365 as well as specify a service account for Directory Synchronization to use. If you have an Exchange Server on-premises, it may also ask you about preserving hybrid configuration, and of course if you wish to keep that functionality intact you would select that option.
3. Uninstall DirSync & disable staging mode
One more thing: you need to uninstall DirSync on the source server, and finally launch Azure AD Connect on the destination server, and disable staging mode. Until you do this, the new server will not be exporting any data to Azure AD.
4. Verify Directory Synchronization health
Of course, as with anything, it is worth verifying the success of this process. Check out the Directory Synchronization health in your Office 365 portal, just to be safe. If you see no errors, then cheers; you’re done!
*AAD Connect cannot be installed on Small Business Server or Windows Server Essentials–it must be installed on Windows Server Standard or Datacenter. Note: it can be installed on a member server or Domain Controller, as long as it uses a writable 2008 R2 or later DC (RODC not supported).