Active Directory is the heart of the Hosted Messaging and Collaboration centralized management solution. A centralized management system allows you to create and manage server and user privileges, authentication, and security within your hosting environment far more efficiently than by using local user accounts and individual server management. Using centralized management reduces operational complexity, improves security, and lowers risk through consistent policy application. The following table describes a complete list of server-focused benefits.

Table: Centralized Management Server-Focused Benefits

Benefit Description

Simple model

A powerful, yet simple model for managing user accounts and associated rights for the service provider staff eliminates the confusion that exists when accounts and passwords are maintained locally on each server.

Cost efficiencies

Using a single central model for managing the service provider accounts results in operational cost efficiencies.

One set of tools

Because all accounts and rights are defined in a single central location using Active Directory, you can use one set of tools to manage the solution. This solution provides internal tools that directly access and manage Active Directory.

Single design and data store

A single design and data store for server management means that you can use simple operational processes for critical tasks such as backup, restore, disaster recovery, global system monitoring, and administration.

Global security policy

Operational benefits are also realized through defining and managing a global security policy, including security lockdown processes. The security policy is clear and simple, as opposed to the inevitable confusion that occurs when each server has its own security details.

Automatic deployment of security policies

Centralized security permits you to deploy security policies globally from a central source to each server in the Microsoft environments. Centralized deployment of security policies minimizes the negatives associated with manually applying security lockdown.

Efficiencies in security

Cost efficiencies and reduced operational tasks are also realized because any additions or changes to the overall security policies are implemented only once.

Centralizing the management of users - including service provider users, resellers, and hosted customers - offers similar benefits, as shown in the following table.

Table: Centralized Management User-Focused Benefits

Benefit Description

A single design and data store

A single design and store for user management means that you can use simple operational processes to support external access to servers that provide client services.

Performance of efficient and secure tasks

The security design and the delegated administration model provides for the extension of access rights to resellers and reseller customers. These access rights enable them to efficiently perform tasks based on a tiered security access model for user accounts.

Reduced cost and operational load

Operational load, and thus cost to the service provider, is reduced because external users can perform tasks that would otherwise require service provider resources.

For more information, see Get Started with Centralized Management.