Microsoft® Introduced Active Directory® in 1999
1999 was also the year the Euro was introduced, the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton began in the US Senate, and the year Michael Jordan announced his retirement (only to return in 2001). That’s how old Microsoft AD is.
Can You Use Active Directory to Manage Non-Windows Devices?
You can, but it isn’t easy. The core goal of Microsoft Active Directory is to authenticate, authorize, and manage users to primarily Windows-based devices and applications. Consequently, the configuration to adapt AD to non-Windows devices requires hours of manual manipulation, or workarounds like using Chef.
Active Directory Uses “Groups” to Manage Users
Active Directory is based on an LDAP-compliant database. Within the database, IT organizations store objects which include users, devices, and applications. These objects are often grouped in different ways to make it easy for IT admins to execute tasks.
For example, IT admins can create Organizational Units (OUs) which help group objects into groups for easier manipulation via Group Policy Objects (GPOs). AD also provides another hierarchy to help organize deployment across an enterprise.
Forests, trees, and domains are the mechanism by which AD controls users and access. Forests are the top level of the hierarchy which can include multiple trees and then subsequently domains. Windows systems and applications then leverage the Kerberos protocol for authentication.
Active Directory is Getting Re-imagined
A new generation of AD “compatible” solutions is emerging. It’s called Directory-as-a-Service®. The solution is delivered from the cloud and as a cloud-hosted directory service. No longer do IT admins need to procure and manage hardware and software on-premise to provide core directory services.
Further, IT organizations can leverage whatever devices their employees need, but still maintain the control and security necessary. Cloud servers and Web-apps can be controlled by a single directory service versus being outside of the AD purview.
A cloud-based Active Directory like solution takes the Microsoft Active Directory concept to the next level by connecting users to all of their devices and applications.
Cloud-Based Directories are Free for Under 10 Users
Think something as good as a SaaS directory would rip the wallet in half? Think again. Companies like JumpCloud are making access to cost-effective cloud directory services effortless for all sized businesses from small to enterprise. Their goal is to make businesses do their jobs better, and part of that is providing a service that’s flexible to any size or configuration of company.