Azure AD Without a Local Server

Written by Kayla Coco-Stotts on March 31, 2020

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Azure® Active Directory (AAD or Azure AD) has emerged as a popular identity management tool for admins pondering cloud-based user management. Those looking to move their on-prem infrastructure to the cloud are wondering whether Azure AD can manage identities without the need for legacy hardware, like a local server.

As IT departments evaluate the practical uses of Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) in modern IT environments, many have questioned whether they can move off-prem entirely.

Below, we’ll discuss the various applications of AAD, as well as solutions for those looking for entirely cloud-based identity management. 

What is Azure AD?

Azure AD is a cloud-based user management platform from Microsoft. It serves as the primary user management tool in Azure, and can be used to extend core AD identities to select SaaS applications and Azure infrastructure. 

Admins looking to use AAD on its own are typically interested in leaving behind the maintenance and costs of on-prem Active Directory, including domain controllers. And while most organizations choose to leverage Azure AD and AD together, Azure AD can be used entirely on its own. Doing so allows organizations to abandon local servers (such as Active Directory’s domain controller) and move legacy infrastructure off-prem. 

However, it’s also important to note that in order to complete tasks related to system management, legacy application authentication, and network access control, on-prem AD and Azure AD need to be used together. Specifically, AAD alone struggles to authenticate users to networks via RADIUS; manage systems, applications, or storage; or enforce GPOs (or the like) for on-prem Windows®, macOS®, or Linux® devices.

Leveraging Azure AD as a core identity provider (IdP) requires add-on solutions, and oftentimes those other solutions mean the addition of on-prem hardware (such as a local server for AD).


Breaking Up with Active Directory

Don’t let your directory hold you back. Learn why it’s time to break up with AD.

Cloud-Based Identity Management

For IT admins looking to leverage a cloud-based identity and access management (IAM) tool without a local server, JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® (DaaS) may be the way to go. DaaS offers SSO capabilities similar to that of Azure AD, but JumpCloud’s SSO extends beyond select web applications.

True Single Sign-On™ (True SSO) combines cloud-based LDAP, SAML 2.0, and RADIUS to extend authoritative user identities to disparate systems, applications, networks, and files. As a core IdP, DaaS functions entirely in the cloud, effectively removing the need for on-prem hardware. Now, IT teams can truly employ modern directory services that suit modern needs.

Learn More

Interested in learning more about identity management without the need for a local server? Feel free to reach out for a personalized demo to see DaaS in action, or you can register up to 10 users for free.

Kayla Coco-Stotts

Kayla is a content writer at JumpCloud with a B.A. in Print Journalism from the University of Kentucky. She hails from St. Louis, Missouri, and loves to eat good food and hike Boulder's beautiful trails when she is not writing.

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