What is Microsoft Entra Cloud Sync?

Microsoft Entra Cloud Sync is a new offering from Microsoft designed to meet and accomplish your hybrid identity goals for synchronization of users, groups, and contacts to Microsoft Entra ID. It accomplishes this by using the Microsoft Entra cloud provisioning agent instead of the Microsoft Entra Connect application. However, it can be used alongside Microsoft Entra Connect Sync and it provides the following benefits:

  • Support for synchronizing to a Microsoft Entra tenant from a multi-forest disconnected Active Directory forest environment: The common scenarios include merger & acquisition (where the acquired company's AD forests are isolated from the parent company's AD forests), and companies that have historically had multiple AD forests.
  • Simplified installation with light-weight provisioning agents: The agents act as a bridge from AD to Microsoft Entra ID, with all the sync configuration managed in the cloud.
  • Multiple provisioning agents can be used to simplify high availability deployments, particularly critical for organizations relying upon password hash synchronization from AD to Microsoft Entra ID.
  • Support for large groups with up to 50,000 members. It's recommended to use only the OU scoping filter when synchronizing large groups.

Diagram of basic cloud sync.

How is Microsoft Entra Cloud Sync different from Microsoft Entra Connect Sync?

With Microsoft Entra Cloud Sync, provisioning from AD to Microsoft Entra ID is orchestrated in Microsoft Online Services. An organization only needs to deploy, in their on-premises or IaaS-hosted environment, a light-weight agent that acts as a bridge between Microsoft Entra ID and AD. The provisioning configuration is stored in Microsoft Entra ID and managed as part of the service.

Microsoft Entra Cloud Sync video

The following short video provides an excellent overview of Microsoft Entra Cloud Sync:

Choose the right sync client

To determine if cloud sync is right for your organization, use the link below. It will take you to a tool that will help you evaluate your synchronization needs. For more information, evaluate your options using the Wizard to evaluate sync options

Comparison between Microsoft Entra Connect and cloud sync

The following table provides a comparison between Microsoft Entra Connect and Microsoft Entra Cloud Sync:

Feature Connect sync Cloud sync
Connect to single on-premises AD forest
Connect to multiple on-premises AD forests
Connect to multiple disconnected on-premises AD forests
Lightweight agent installation model
Multiple active agents for high availability
Support for user objects
Support for group objects
Support for contact objects
Support for device objects
Allow basic customization for attribute flows
Synchronize Exchange online attributes
Synchronize extension attributes 1-15
Synchronize customer defined AD attributes (directory extensions)
Support for Password Hash Sync
Support for Pass-Through Authentication
Support for federation
Seamless Single Sign-on
Supports installation on a Domain Controller
Support for Windows Server 2016
Filter on Domains/OUs/groups
Filter on objects' attribute values
Allow minimal set of attributes to be synchronized (MinSync)
Allow removing attributes from flowing from AD to Microsoft Entra ID
Allow advanced customization for attribute flows
Support for password writeback
Support for device writeback Customers should use Cloud Kerberos trust for this moving forward
Support for group writeback
Support for merging user attributes from multiple domains
Microsoft Entra Domain Services support
Exchange hybrid writeback
Unlimited number of objects per AD domain
Support for up to 150,000 objects per AD domain
Groups with up to 50,000 members
Large groups with up to 250,000 members
Cross domain references
Cross forest references
On-demand provisioning
Support for US Government


For information about synchronizing to Microsoft Entra tenants operated by 21 Vianet, the version of Microsoft 365 specific to China, see Microsoft 365 operated by 21Vianet and Topologies for Microsoft Entra Connect.

Next steps