Rackspace Directory Sync: Install and configure

  • Last updated on: 2019-09-12
  • Authored by: Kevin Richey

Rackspace Directory Sync enables Rackspace Hosted Email customers to synchronize their local Microsoft® Active Directory objects and user passwords with Rackspace Hosted Email in real time. This article describes how to install and configure Rackspace Directory Sync.

System requirements

A functional level of domain controller (DC) and Active Directory such as:

  • Windows® Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2012 R1 & R2

Important notes

  • The Directory Sync service must be installed directly on your domain controller.
  • After installation, Directory Sync cannot automatically synchronize existing passwords because they are unreadable from the Active Directory. Passwords must be reset after installation to ensure password synchronization.
  • Directory Sync is compatible only with Hosted Exchange 2010, Hosted Exchange 2013, Hosted Exchange 2016, and Rackspace Email.

Software prerequisites

You must have Microsoft .NET Framework version 4.0 on the target DC and any other DCs in the system. You can download the appropriate .NET Framework from the Microsoft Download Center.

Firewall ports

You do not have to open any inbound ports from the Internet to your DCs.

Enable the following ports on the Directory Sync server:

  • 443 - Outbound HTTPS connections from the Directory Sync service to the Rackspace API.
  • 8732 - Open for connections from other DCs to the Directory Sync server, but not used for any connections outside your network. This port is used by DC password hooks.
  • 8080 - Used only locally on the Directory Sync service server for a web browser user interface. You can block this port for any external connections.

Network encryption

Communication between Directory Sync and Rackspace is secured through HTTPS. Communications between the Active Directory password hook and Directory Sync are secured with Microsoft Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) transport security, which uses Windows authentication and encryption.

Installation files

You can find the installation files while logged in to either the Cloud Office Control Panel or the MyRackspace Portal, depending on how you normally log in.

Administrators who log in to the MyRackspace Portal as the primary contact can use the following steps:

  1. In the top navigation bar, click Select a Product > Dedicated Hosting.
  2. Click Products > Cloud Office.
  3. Click on your domain. The Directory Sync installers are located in the right column.

Administrators who log in to the Cloud Office Control Panel with Super Admin permission can use the following steps:

  1. While on the home page, click Domains.
  2. On the Domains Home page, click on Tools, and then click the Directory Sync tab.

    The Directory Sync installers are listed at the bottom of the page.

Choose the appropriate installer, based on either 32- or 64-bit platforms.

  • Directory Sync Service x64.msi
  • Directory Sync Service x86.msi

Administrator’s guide

To learn more about the features of the Directory Sync and how to use it after installation, see the Rackspace Directory Sync: Administrator’s Guide.

Install the Directory Sync service

Two services are installed with the Directory Sync system, the Directory Sync service and the Password Handler service. The Directory Sync service is a Windows service that automatically synchronizes user information and requires a local service account under which to run. The Password Handler service automatically synchronizes user password changes.

Note: The Directory Sync service runs as the Local System account on the DC.

  1. Copy the appropriate platform-specific Directory Sync service .msi file to the domain controller.

  2. Open the file and follow the prompts for installing the Directory Sync service.

Note: When prompted, click Yes to restart your system now or click No to manually restart it later. You must restart for the changes to take effect. If you restart now, the installation wizard continues.

When the installation is complete, the web UI for validation and synchronization automatically opens. A shortcut to the web UI is created on both the Start menu and on the desktop.

Configure the Directory Sync service and synchronize

The Windows Services management console contains a new service called Directory Sync. The installation automatically starts the service. If any errors occur when the service is starting, view the event log for more information about the error.

Note: We recommend creating new security groups in Active Directory that manage the list of synchronized users for each hosted service. For example, if you are synchronizing Exchange users, create a new security group in Active Directory as Rackspace Exchange or Rackspace Hosted Exchange.

To start synchronizing Active Directory changes with Rackspace, configure the Directory Sync by performing the following steps:

  1. Open the Directory Sync service administrative web application, if it is not already open:

  2. On the Sync Registration Page, enter the API User Key associated with your Rackspace Cloud Office account, and then click Register.
    • Customers who logged in to the MyRackspace Portal will automatically create an admin ID through the MyRackspace Portal before download.
    • Customers who logged in to the Cloud Office Control Panel should create a new admin ID dedicated to the sync service.
  3. On the Settings tab, provide the following information:

    • Local AD domain: Verify that the appropriate local Active Directory domain is selected.
    • Hosted Exchange: Select the appropriate security group to be synchronized with Microsoft Exchange mailboxes.
    • Hosted Email: Select the appropriate security group to be synchronized with Rackspace Email mailboxes.

    Note: The daily admin summary emails are no longer a feature of the Directory Sync service. You can now find this information on the sync history and alerts tab in the Directory Sync UI.

  4. Click Save & Start Sync to begin a full synchronization.

    There are two types of synchronization:

    • Full synchronization finds all items available for synchronization in the entire directory. This synchronization type initiates only on the first synchronization process.
    • Delta synchronization finds changes available for synchronization in Active Directory that occurred since the last synchronization. This synchronization type runs automatically every 5 minutes by default but can also be performed manually. To manually run a delta synchronization, click the Sync History tab and then click the Sync Now button.

Note: The Directory Sync services never make changes to the directory. All access is read-only.

Synchronize users and groups

For information about how to start synchronizing your Active Directory objects to your mailboxes and distribution lists, see the Rackspace Directory Sync Operations Guide.

Install password synchronization for multiple DCs (optional)

The main installer for Directory Sync is installed on one DC that communicates directly to Rackspace. The DC communicates through the Rackspace API to the Cloud Office Control Panel over an HTTPS connection on port 443. This DC, or primary DC, includes the Directory Sync UI and is where Directory Sync is configured.

If you have multiple DCs to manage the Active Directory, you must install the Password Handler on all DCs except the primary DC (the Password Handler is installed during the initial setup). Normally, password changes in a network occur locally and then are replicated to the other DCs. Directory Sync is unable to see those password changes after replication because of encryption. To ensure that password changes are synchronized, each DC requires the Password Handler to be installed directly. This installation requires each DC to restart.

Password changes made in the other DCs are delivered to the primary DC over port 8732. Multiple DCs communicate internally with the primary DC and do not send any password changes outside of the network. All password synchronizations are funneled through the primary DC and then synchronized to Rackspace.

The following figure illustrates this communication process.

Install the Password Handler service on secondary domain DCs

During the installation of the Directory Sync service on the primary DC, the Directory Sync Password Handler Install folder was created on the desktop. Use the installer in this folder to synchronize your users’ passwords across multiple DCs.

Note: The .msi file within the folder should be installed only on the secondary DCs.

This process applies to multiple DCs (two or more). Repeat the following steps for each additional DC in the Active Directory forest.

Important: You must restart each DC to complete this process. Consider performing these steps during off-hours.

  1. Copy the .msi file to the secondary DC.
  2. Double-click the installation file and click Next on the welcome page of the wizard.
  3. On the next page, click Install.
  4. After the restart, click Finish.

The Password Handler of Directory Sync is installed.

Note: This application runs in the background. You do not have to configure any settings. Settings are taken from the primary DC.

Now that the installation is complete, see the Rackspace Directory Sync Administrator’s Guide and the Directory Sync Operations Guide to learn how to use Directory Sync and its features.

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