Microsoft® Azure® Active Directory® (Azure AD or AAD) has been used by many for bridging Active Directory credentials to select cloud-based resources. However, when evaluated on its own, AAD struggles to provide a holistic IT management solution — which is often what’s required for modern organizations to secure their ever-evolving environments.
Considering this, we’ve outlined some of the common reasons why admins are choosing to look for a replacement for Azure AD, as well as options for those considering an entirely cloud-based identity provider (IdP).
Why Replace Azure AD?
Forward-thinking IT organizations may be looking beyond Azure AD for a cloud-based IdP that allows them to leverage more control over users and resources.
AAD functions best when paired with an existing directory service, as it natively lacks certain identity management capabilities. As such, there’s been a call for a replacement that can secure and authenticate users to the other, disparate resources they need.
Granted, many organizations already have Azure AD Free, as it’s included with a subscription to Office 365™. And in a way, AAD acts as the authoritative identity management tool for their O365 users. With this in mind, a replacement for Azure AD isn’t always about taking away existing IT infrastructure — it’s sometimes about supplementing it with a solution that can authenticate users to all their resources.
But how do you know what to look for when considering a supplement to or replacement for your current IdP? Below, we’ll outline the requirements to properly evaluate the best options for your organization.
What to Look For in a Replacement
Replacing an existing identity management tool can be an arduous task. With IT teams often managing any number of users, it’s important to know exactly what you’ll need in an Azure AD replacement before choosing to implement one.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of those provider requirements most organizations will evaluate when considering a new core identity provider. Keep in mind, however, that these should be tailored to your organization’s individual needs.
For most, effective identity management should include:
- Cross-platform system management that supports all three major operating systems (Windows®, macOS®, and Linux®)
- Single sign-on (SSO) for cloud applications via SAML 2.0 and OAuth
- Cloud LDAP for connecting users to legacy applications
- RADIUS authentication for WiFi, VPNs, and wired networks
- Security tools like multi-factor authentication (MFA), SSH keys, and full disk encryption (FDE) to keep users, systems, networks, file servers, and more protected
- PowerShell tooling to streamline IT administration
- Event logging on all IT infrastructure to expedite troubleshooting and generate reports for auditing/compliance
Requirements like these can ensure that IT teams have the right tools to keep both users and their resources secured and properly calibrated to suit an organization’s needs.
On an even smaller level, admins looking for an Azure AD replacement should find one that protects all their resources, including those hosted outside organizational boundaries. Remote working is another aspect of user management to be aware of. Does your selected IdP support authentication to VPNs so that users can securely work? VPNs are critical to ensuring their access to systems, files, applications, and more are protected.
Furthermore, are you safeguarding your IT infrastructure by requiring that your users create passwords that are complex and difficult for hackers to guess? Are those credentials protected through MFA by requiring that another factor, such as a TOTP token generated on their phones, be used before they gain entry to their resources?
Not only is it important that users and resources be organized under one centralized IdP, it’s even more crucial that those users apply all security measures available to maintain organizational security.
Authenticate to Everything
Similar to ensuring security is a top priority, a potential replacement for Azure AD should allow users to authenticate to everything they need to maintain productivity.
The current era of technological innovation is in no way slowing down, and IT admins concerned about limiting their users to certain platforms/iterations of a particular product should seek out a cloud-based identity and access management (IAM) tool that authenticates to nearly everything, regardless of provider.
The ideal IdP for organizations looking to transition to cloud infrastructure should connect users to both on-prem equipment (like file servers, on-prem applications, and on-prem systems) and cloud-based software (such as web applications and Infrastructure-as-a-Service platforms like AWS®) from the same console. And for admins utilizing Azure AD for managing O365 users, a replacement IdP should seamlessly integrate with their existing infrastructure so as not to disrupt their admins’ and users’ general workflow.
By doing so, IT teams can ease their transition to an entirely cloud-based infrastructure or maintain their existing identity management platforms while ensuring that users can employ True Single Sign-On™ (True SSO) for all the systems, networks, files, and applications they need access to.
Ultimately, True SSO allows users to enter their credentials/MFA token once, reducing workflow friction and allowing admins to easily provision and configure those users for all their resources from a single interface.
Organizations looking to leverage secure, scalable IAM that suits the needs of the modern enterprise may find value in JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®. Designed as Active Directory and LDAP reimagined, Directory-as-a-Service (DaaS) securely connects users to nearly all their IT resources, ensuring that the cloud directory service is functional and easy to use for both the user and the IT admin.
And through features such as Office 365 Integration and Active Directory Integration, admins can use DaaS in conjunction with other platforms to tailor their identity management resources and best suit their individual requirements.
Interested in seeing if JumpCloud could be a fitting replacement for Azure AD? Feel free to reach out for a personalized demo to see DaaS in action, or you can register up to 10 users entirely for free.