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I've been checking out SharePoint (Foundation, Server, Online) for a customer of ours, and one of the requirements is synchronisation with Active Directory. I stumbled upon this virtual lab while trying to gather more information: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/hh699843.aspx

What puzzles me is why most of these steps are required, more specifically "Task 4: Create a new Contact and Distribution Group", which seems to require an Exchange server.

This is a problem because our customer uses a different e-mail provider, one that isn't an Exchange server, and this is not subject to change any time soon.

So, I've been trying to find out what the real requirements are to get Active Directory synchronization to work, but I can't seem to find anything about the subject other than guides like the virtual lab linked to above.

Can I synchronise SharePoint (Foundation, Server or Online) with Active Directory, without an Exchange server?

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Yes you can.

SharePoint synchronizes with any server that uses Active Directory Protocol or LDAP for user profile details. Exchange Server is just the Microsoft version of it. You have other similar LDAP servers like Domino Server or Lotus Notes server from IBM, etc.

Inorder to achieve this, you need to add an import connection with the LDAP server. You can notice that, by default SharePoint makes a default connection with Microsoft AD. Visit this technet article on creating and configuring import connections.

Hope you are clear.

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