Active Directory® vs OneLogin™

Written by Natalie Bluhm on May 26, 2018

Share This Article

The identity management marketplace is confusing, so as IT organizations shift to the cloud, there are a number of identity management categories that are being confused with each other. We often see this in the case of Microsoft® Active Directory® vs OneLogin. While there may be some overlap between these two solutions, they really have more of a complementary relationship instead of a competitive one. This is an important nuance to understand because it changes the dynamic in an Active Directory vs OneLogin comparison.

So let’s take a closer look at the relationship between OneLogin and Active Directory, and why they aren’t in competition with one another.  

Active Directory Needed Help

Active Directory vs OneLogin

OneLogin isn’t competing with AD because it wasn’t built to replace Active Directory. Instead, it was created to help Active Directory by extending it to web-based applications. You see, Active Directory has been the go-to choice for directory services for the past twenty years. At the time it was created, organizations were leveraging mostly on-prem Windows resources, and this was exactly the type of environment AD was built to manage. So, AD went on to become the on-prem market share leader in directory services.

Then in the early 2000’s, web applications surfaced. However, this new IT resource wasn’t on-prem nor Microsoft-based, so IT organizations couldn’t integrate web apps with Active Directory. As a result, a whole generation of web application single sign-on providers emerged like OneLogin.

SSO providers would take in an identity and federate it to web applications while AD would continue to be the source of truth. This setup allowed end users to easily and quickly login to their web-based applications. While SSO providers have been a great help to AD, that’s all they can really do. They can’t replace Active Directory because SSO solutions aren’t usually the authoritative source of identities, and they don’t integrate with all of the resources used in an IT environment. So, this is why we would suggest that the concept of Active Directory vs OneLogin should really be thought of as AD and OneLogin. They are two completely different solutions, so it doesn’t make sense to compare them. However, there is an underlying reason for why many IT admins are comparing OneLogin with AD.


Breaking Up with Active Directory

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

Using Web App SSO for Cloud Identity Management

Our belief is that IT admins are really looking to make the leap to the cloud and eliminate their on-prem identity management infrastructure. As a result, what they’re really wondering with an AD vs OneLogin comparison is whether or not a web application SSO platform can serve as an authoritative identity provider.


The simple answer to this question is no, because a cloud identity provider should securely manage and connect users to virtually all of their IT resources. This needs to include systems (Windows, Mac®, Linux®), cloud and on-prem server infrastructure (e.g. AWS®, GCP, on-prem data centers), web and on-prem applications via LDAP and SAML, physical and virtual file servers (e.g. Samba file servers, NAS appliances, Box, etc.), and wired and WiFi networks via RADIUS. Neither Active Directory nor a web application SSO provider can do this. AD keeps you locked in to Microsoft products and on-prem infrastructure, whereas SSO solutions are focused on applications. Therefore, both of these identity management solutions can’t meet the needs of modern organizations who are looking to centralize access to all of their resources regardless of protocol, platform, provider, and location.

The good news is a cloud identity provider does exist that can centralize access to all of your IT resources, and it’s known as JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®.

Unify Your IT Environment with JumpCloud

Regardless of where a user is, who provides their tools, what protocols their resources are based upon, and what platforms they leverage, JumpCloud integrates with virtually all of your systems, applications, file storage, and networks. This comprehensive approach means you can eliminate AD, gain widespread visibility over more than just applications, and provide your end users with a frictionless workflow.


Get More Information

Do you have questions about identity management after reading this Active Directory vs OneLogin post? Consider watching this video to get an overview of the IAM space, and how JumpCloud is different from first generation IDaaS vendors. If a cloud-based directory service sounds intriguing, sign up for a free account. Your first ten users are free forever, and every single feature is available. If you would rather get in touch with a JumpCloud team member, drop us a note, and we’ll happily help you out.

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