Our last post in the “Lync Connection Tools” series! Today I’m adding Online Directory Synchronization to the list, along with the others:

With these we can test connection quality for Lync Online, examine network configuration, connect Unified Messaging…and now, synchronize information between your local Active Directory and Office 365!

What is Directory Synchronization?

This is a tool to maintain synchronization of user data between Office 365 and your local Active Directory user information. It is commonly used to maintain data consistency between local Exchange Servers and Lync Online.

Directory Synchronization, or “DirSync”, is the most common provisioning choice for Enterprise-level businesses moving to Office 365.

What does Online Directory Synchronization Do?

DirSync acts as a constant “live update” for user accounts. It goes back and forth between your local AD and the Windows Azure AD (which provides identity and access capabilities for Office 365). Each time it synchronizes a long list of user account information, contact objects and other attributes.

Which objects and attributes are synchronized?

  • Contact Name
  • Contact Phone Number
  • List of Contact’s Email Addresses
  • IP Address for Contact Phone
  • Manager Relationship for the Contact
  • Mailbox GUID
  • Geographical Information for each user
  • And much more.

A full list is here: List of attributes that are synced by the Windows Azure Active Directory Sync tool – Microsoft Support

DirSync is required if you plan to use Single Sign-On, Lync Coexistence Mode, Exchange hybrid deployment, photo synchronization and so on.

How do You Use Directory Synchronization?

The best way to use DirSync is to turn it on and let it do its job. With directory synchronization enabled, your users’ information should always stay up-to-date, whether you call someone from Lync Online or email them from Exchange.

The computer running Directory Synchronization must have the following requirements:

  • Windows Server 2008 Datacenter (64-Bit); 2008 R2 Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter (64-Bit); Windows Server 2012 Standard/Datacenter (64-Bit)
  • Joined to Active Directory domain
  • Runs .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 and .NET Framework 4.0
  • Runs PowerShell
  • NOT located on a Domain Controller

I should also note – Directory Synchronization is not always enabled by default! You may need to activate it yourself. If you want to activate Directory Synchronization, I refer you to this very detailed post at the Petri IT Knowledgebase:
Active Directory Integration with Office 365: Directory Sync – Petri.co.il

DirSync will run for up to 50,000 objects. If you have more than those, clean out any old contacts & duplicates, or contact Microsoft Support.

That’s it! DirSync is pretty much a single-purpose tool…but very useful for Office 365 users. You can work without it, but I seriously would not recommend it. Manual synchronization is time-consuming and prone to inconsistencies. Automate user data sync with this tool and don’t worry about it.

Plan for Online Directory Synchronization – TechNet Page

Next week I plan to have some hands-on notes for doing Lync Server updating. Join us back here for the details!

Examining Lync's Connection Tools: Online Directory Synchronization
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