Use Cases for Active Directory®

Written by Natalie Bluhm on March 21, 2019

Share This Article

It would seem that discussing the use cases for Active Directory® (AD) would be straight forward. After all, the Microsoft® identity provider is the market share leader for on-prem directory services. But, recent changes like the shift to the cloud and the move to heterogeneous IT environments have many organizations thinking about when to use Active Directory and when to consider something else.   

When Active Directory Made Sense

When AD was released in 1999, IT networks were largely on-prem and Windows®-based. Active Directory was designed to manage networks exactly like this, so it made a great deal of sense that Active Directory was the go-to choice for creating and managing user access in a domain. That design focus also meant that AD was really good at its job at this point of time. IT admins were able to maintain excellent control over their IT environment by just using Active Directory, and they were also able to provide their end users with easy access to everything they needed to get work done.

Then Change Hit the IT Landscape

However, today IT networks are vastly different than what they were in the late 1990s. The use of Windows systems has dropped while macOS® and Linux® have made significant inroads onto people’s desks. Web applications have replaced on-prem solutions, with G Suite™ and Office 365™ leading the way. Cloud infrastructure from AWS® is replacing on-prem data centers. These changes and more are complicating the choices for IT admins when it comes to identity and access management.

In fact, for those who are still using Active Directory, these shifts in the IT infrastructure have necessitated the addition of identity bridges, web application single sign-on, multi-factor authentication (2FA), and more. This has resulted in IT admins losing the ability to manage their users and resources from one solution and introduced complexity to user workflow. Hence, the traditional approach to identity management has been breaking down, causing many to ponder over what use cases are ideal for Active Directory these days.

What are the Use Cases for Active Directory?


As a Microsoft solution that thrives on-prem, it seems as though AD is best for use cases that require Windows-based architectures that must remain on-prem. These type of IT environments use very little in the way of cloud infrastructure, web-based applications, or even Linux-based solutions. Generally, these types of requirements are found in highly regimented organizations such as the U.S. Department of Defense where there are significant requirements around compliance and security. Other industries such as large scale financial institutions are also often required to stick to using an on-prem environment.

While those are some specific use cases for AD, the vast majority of organizations don’t fall into those categories. They are able and open to leveraging cloud technology and other modern IT resources. For them, the concept of being limited with Active Directory is often not the path to increased agility and business success. So what directory service should they use? Well, there’s a new solution on the market called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® that they should take a look at.

Why JumpCloud?

JumpCloud is a reimagined Active Directory alternative that is designed for the cloud-forward, heterogeneous IT landscape. JumpCloud takes a multi-protocol, vendor-independent approach that enables modern organizations to centralize user access to virtually all of their IT resources. This includes systems (Windows, Mac® and Linux), wired and wireless networks, applications via LDAP and SAML, and physical and virtual file storage. IT admins can enjoy managing their environment from a single pane of glass once again and empower their end users with  frictionless access to their IT resources.

Learn More

Interested in diving deeper into the use cases for Active Directory and the use cases for JumpCloud? Consider viewing the video above. You are also more than welcome to drop us a note, and one of our technical experts will gladly get back to you. Interested in testing JumpCloud? Our free account is perfect for you. You don’t even need a credit card to sign up, it’s fully featured, and your first ten users are free forever. If you need help along the way, our Knowledge Base offers detailed documentation and our YouTube Channel is packed with  tutorial videos.

Natalie Bluhm

Natalie is a writer for JumpCloud, an Identity and Access Management solution designed for the cloud era. Natalie graduated with a degree in professional and technical writing, and she loves learning about cloud infrastructure, identity security, and IT protocols.

Continue Learning with our Newsletter