In What’s New In SharePoint 2013 for Administrators – Part 2, Michael Noel author of our course on SharePoint 2013: Administration and a subject matter expert on related topics, notes a substantial improvement in the administration of the User Profile Sync service with SharePoint Server 2013.
Specifically, administrators can implement new options to tame the task of managing this service. With the 2013 version of SharePoint Server, Forefront Identity Manager (FIM) is no longer a mandatory component of managing the User Profile Sync Service. Administrators can choose to simply synchronize User Profiles to Active Directory, only. This option does not include any “write back” capabilities. So administrators choosing this option will no longer be able to add details from User Profiles in SharePoint 2013 back to respective Active Directory records. But for some organizations this limitation will be a non issue. This method is, effectively, a “one way sync” and very similar to the way the service worked in the 2007 version of SharePoint Server. It’s easier to set up and not as complex as the same task would be if it were necessary to write back to the full FIM service.
The second option, which is very much like the same task in SharePoint Server 2010, is to use a “scaled back version of Forefront Identity Manager.” The communication is two way, albeit only back to your directory source. This option will make sense for administrators who need to enable users to add details (for example, mobile contact information, including cell phone numbers), back to Active Directory.
The third option is to choose to use the full FIM client. Of course, this option will include all of the complexity removed by the other options. Therefore, administrators choosing this option should have the requisite level of experience required to successfully handle a much more complex procedure.
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