Features of LDAP integration

LDAP integration features include scheduled refresh, a dedicated listener, and on-demand login.

Scheduled LDAP refresh

A scheduled scan of your LDAP server is usually run once a night. It queries all applicable user records' attributes and compares them with the account on our servers. If there is a difference, we modify our user record with the changed attribute. The load placed upon the LDAP server during the refresh depends on how many records are queried, and the number of attributes being compared. We recommend scheduling the refresh during off-peak hours. A large refresh operation can affect other scheduled operations, such as running reports, and should be planned to minimize any conflicts.

LDAP listener

LDAP listener is our version of a persistent query (or persistent search). We issue a standing query for changes made to your LDAP server, and constantly listen for a response. Assuming your server supports a persistent search, any changes made to any of your applicable LDAP accounts are returned to the LDAP listener and sent to your instance within approximately 10 seconds. This is an extremely useful tool, allowing us to have a nearly real-time copy of your users' account details, without having to wait for the next scheduled refresh.

On-demand LDAP login

After LDAP integration is complete, your instance has the ability to allow new users to login to the system, even if their accounts have not yet been created. When a new user attempts to login to your instance, we look to see if this user has an account. When the account is not found, the instance automatically queries the LDAP server for the username that was entered. If an account is found, we then try to authenticate with the user's password. If the password checks out, the instance creates an account for the user, populates the account with all applicable LDAP information, and logs the user into your instance.

LDAP data population

An LDAP integration involves data population and authentication.

Note: Functionality described in this integration is not available by default. This integration involves post-deployment customization performed by an experienced administrator or by ServiceNow professional services consultants.

An integration to the LDAP servers allows you to quickly and easily populate the instance's database with user records from the existing LDAP database. To prevent data inconsistencies, configuration settings provide the ability to create, ignore, or skip incoming LDAP records.

You can also limit the data the integration imports by specifying LDAP attributes, thereby importing only the data that you want to expose to an instance. Typically, the LDAP attributes you specify become part of the integration transform map. If you do not specify any LDAP attributes, the integration imports all available object attributes from the LDAP server. The instance stores imported LDAP data in temporary import set tables, so the more attributes you import, the longer the import time. For more information, see Specify LDAP attributes.

LDAP scheduled refresh

It is recommended that you run a scheduled scan of the LDAP server once a night.

The scan queries all applicable user records' attributes and compares them to accounts on your instances. If the scan identifies a difference, the integration modifies the instance user record with the changed attribute.

The load placed on the LDAP server during the refresh depends on how many records are queried and the number of attributes being compared.

Schedule the refresh during off-peak hours at a time that minimizes conflicts. A large refresh operation can affect other scheduled operations, such as running reports.

LDAP authentication

Use LDAP authentication to access using LDAP credentials.

When a user enters network credentials in the login page:
  1. The instance passes the credentials to an LDAP server to find the instance.
  2. With RDNs, it validates the user's DN string. It validates only if at least one of the LDAP OU configurations with table=sys_user has an RDN configured.
  3. The LDAP server responds with an authorized or unauthorized message that the system uses to determine whether access should be granted.

By authenticating against your LDAP server, users access the platform with the same credentials that they use for other internal resources on your network domain. Also, you can reuse any existing password and security policies that are already in place. For example, the LDAP server may already have account lockout and password expiration policies.

When you enable LDAP, the system updates user records with these fields.
Table 1. LDAP user record updates
Field Description
Source Identifies whether or not LDAP is used to validate a user. If the source starts with ldap, then the user is validated via LDAP. If the source does not start with ldap, then the password on the user record is used to validate the user upon login.
LDAP Server Identifies which LDAP server authenticates the user when there are multiple LDAP servers.
Note: The system does not support LDAP password authentication through a MID Server. An instance must be able to directly connect with an LDAP server to support password authentication.

LDAP on-demand login

Create accounts by matching users to existing LDAP accounts.

After an LDAP integration is established, the instance can allow new users to log in to the system even if they do not yet have an account on the instance. When a new user attempts to log in to the instance, the integration checks to see if this user has an account in the instance. If the integration does not find an existing user account, it automatically queries the LDAP server for the user name that was entered. If a matching LDAP account is found, the integration tries to authenticate with the password the user entered. If the password is valid, the instance creates an account for the user, populates the account with all applicable LDAP information, and logs in the user to the instance.

On-demand login uses the LDAP User Import transform map. For more information on transform map requirements, see LDAP transform maps.