What is an Active Directory Bridge?

Written by Vince Lujan on October 12, 2019

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An Active Directory bridge is a tool that allows organizations to continue using Microsoft® AD as their authoritative source of identity, while extending it to systems, apps, and protocols not natively managed by Active Directory (AD). Other terms for this type of solution are an Active Directory extension or a cloud identity bridge.

Below you’ll find a more detailed definition, along with some background on the directory services landscape and why so many organizations are looking for alternatives to the conventional AD setup. If you’re looking for information specifically on JumpCloud’s AD bridge solution, called AD Integration, visit its product page for a full run-down of features and screenshots.

Why Extend Active Directory?

Active Directory Microsoft

The IT world has changed dramatically over the past few years. If you look back to the turn of the century, you would see a primarily Windows on-prem environment. Just about everyone had a Windows system. They walked into the office each day, sat down at their desks, plugged into a private network, and authenticated their identities against an on-prem Active Directory domain controller. Microsoft stored user identities, which enabled seamless access to resources like Windows-based applications, productivity platforms, and storage devices to name a few – all of which were stored on private Windows servers in a data center somewhere on-site.

Fast forward to today and things look very different. Disparate operating systems (e.g Windows, Mac, and Linux), wireless access points (WAPs) and networks, remote users, and cloud resources are preferred. While these and many other things have changed, one thing has stayed the same – namely, Active Directory. So how does AD fit into the modern IT ecosystem?

Limitations of AD

Active Directory fails in the cloud

Managing non-Windows systems, applications, and cloud resources has never been AD’s forté. Yet, many organizations still leverage AD for directory services. This is especially true for older organizations with more mature IT infrastructures. The challenge for these types of organizations is extending user credentials to manage resources that fall outside of the Active Directory domain.

For example, centralized management for Mac and Linux systems has always been notoriously painful to implement and maintain with AD. At the same time, AD is so entrenched within the infrastructure of an organization that getting rid of it is improbable. This is the reality for many organizations. As a result, it is not uncommon for these non-Windows systems to go unmanaged. It would seem then if you want to manage non-Windows resources with AD, you are essentially caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

What if there was a better way? A new approach, that would allow you to keep AD but also offered seamless management for non-Windows systems and resources. Well, that is exactly what we’ve done at JumpCloud.


Breaking Up with Active Directory

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

Introducing AD Integration by JumpCloud

AD Integration Diagram

JumpCloud’s AD bridge solution, AD Integration, makes it easy to extend your Microsoft AD-managed identities to authenticate with cloud-based and non-Windows resources not supported by AD directly. Simply synchronize your desired users and groups managed in AD with JumpCloud, and gain control over their access to networks, systems, servers, and applications – even when they are not directly bound to AD. As a result, AD remains your master authority, and user identities are extended to all of the resources they need access to, both on-prem and in the cloud.


  • Supports AD on Windows Server 2008, 2012, 2016.
  • Authentication services for remote/unbound MacLinux, and Windows systems.
  • User and group synchronization for all or selected objects.
  • AD to JumpCloud password and data synchronization in seconds.
  • Authenticate AD user accounts through JumpCloud’s cloud-based LDAP, RADIUS, and SAML services.
  • MFA services for JumpCloud synchronized user accounts for Mac and Linux systems.

Is AD Integration Right for You?

You may be asking, why would the creators of the first comprehensive cloud directory service create a tool that makes Active Directory easier to use? The answer is that we understand the complexity and variety of IT environments. Many organizations would like to be able to consolidate their infrastructure in the cloud, but they have deep and long-held ties to Active Directory. For these organizations, “breaking up” with AD simply isn’t an option at this time. With the AD bridge solution, AD Integration, by JumpCloud, you can take your directory services into the cloud without migrating from your existing directory infrastructure.

Extending Active Directory isn’t for every organization. If you have no directory or if you have limited investment in your existing Active Directory infrastructure, it probably makes more sense to transition completely to a cloud-based directory.

To learn more about how JumpCloud’s AD Integration benefits your organization, drop us a note. You can also sign up for a free account and see for yourself. Your first ten users and ten devices are free.

Vince Lujan

Vince is a writer and video specialist at JumpCloud. Originally from the horse capital of New Mexico, Corrales, he has lived in Boulder, Colorado for three years. When Vince is not developing content for JumpCloud, he can usually be found at the Boulder Creek.

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