By Megan Anderson Posted December 30, 2019
Do you have an Active Directory® (AD) problem? You’re not alone. Many of today’s IT organizations have a love-hate relationship with AD. They appreciate what it can do for them, but bang their heads on the table when it doesn’t do what they need it to.
A study by Forbes found that by 2018, 77% of the enterprises surveyed had at least one application or a portion of their computing infrastructure in the cloud. Where originally the cloud was seen as a way to reduce costs, it now acts as the foundation for a digital business model.
The shift is intuitive and inevitable – cloud resources are helping IT organizations offload much of the work and infrastructure once needed by their predecessors. Plus, with fewer organizations enforcing a homogenous platform policy, other platforms like macOS® and Linux® are invaluable tools for many roles in an organization.
However, amidst the ever-changing nature of IT, many organizations still rely on AD as their core identity provider. This can limit productivity because trying to get a legacy service that has not adequately adapted to cloud computing is rife with hurdles. IT admins have to work around the system, leading to complications such as duplicate accounts, and having improper rights assigned to users as well as unmanaged users/systems/IT resources.
The Problem With Active Directory
When Active Directory was designed more than 20 years ago, the cloud was not widely used (in fact the term really didn’t exist, but the concepts of cloud servers and web applications were just appearing), and Windows dominated the IT scene. As such, AD was designed to manage on-prem, Windows resources above anything else.
However, the proliferation of virtualized servers hosted off-prem and web applications made it possible for people to work from virtually anywhere, not just in the building where the AD server is housed. As such, many enterprises moved away from Windows-exclusive, on-prem resources and started migrating to the cloud as those resources provide more flexibility at a lower cost.
Further, while Microsoft still holds the majority of the desktop computer market share, many companies allow employees to use their preferred devices and OS (Mac and Linux). This led to the introduction of workplaces with mixed-platform environments that AD isn’t built to account for.
Reimagine Active Directory
Despite the difficulties Active Directory presents in the cloud era, it doesn’t have to be stuck on the ground forever. Here are a few solutions that reimagine how AD and other directory services can work for you.
Integrate Active Directory
You can unite AD identities to a cloud-hosted directory service by leveraging authoritative, core AD credentials. A cloud-hosted directory service includes an AD Integration feature that provides bi-directional sync for passwords between AD, the cloud directory, and resources managed by the cloud directory.
AD identities can then be extended to Mac and Linux devices that were not previously bound to the directory. AD identities can also be bridged to cloud and on-prem servers and applications along with physical and virtual storage, Office 365, G Suite™, wired, and WiFi networks through RADIUS.
This tooling is ideal for people with pre-existing AD instances and an abundance of non-domain resources. AD Integration enables you to keep using AD without all the fuss so that you can dedicate more time on more important projects.
Transition Away From Active Directory
The other option is to leave AD altogether. Doing so provides many benefits that suit today’s IT environment, like increased control, security, efficiency, and a reduced cost compared to maintaining legacy, on-prem directories.
With a cloud-based directory, you don’t have to worry about the extra responsibility of maintaining a server on-prem, either, freeing up more time to focus on your enterprise’s unique goals.
A cloud-based directory is also system agnostic, so managing Mac, Linux, and Windows machines is simple. Numerous other security features protect user identities and IT admins can centrally manage identities from creation to deletion across a plethora of IT resources.