Since its inception in the 1990s, Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) has been a dominant force in the directory services market. AD’s championship belt, however, has been put under contention as of late with all of IT’s innovations in the 21st century. With WiFi, mobile, cloud, and other advancements, on-prem AD’s hold on the market is becoming tenuous. Additionally, many enterprises are forgoing a payrolled IT department altogether, opting towards managed service providers (MSPs) or other options to do their IT heavy lifting. As IT organizations outsource more of their infrastructure to the cloud, admins are wondering whether an outsourced cloud Active Directory model exists and if it could make their work lives easier.
Active Directory and the IT Industry
Flash back nearly 20 years ago, and you’ll find that IT relied heavily on Active Directory, given the fact that Windows® was the top OS at the time. After all, what’s better than having identity management come straight from the horse’s mouth? Using AD, sysadmins could manage users, their systems, and the applications they leveraged all from one pane of glass, and pretty easily at that.
While it all seemed to be an admin’s dream, a storm was brewing in the IT market. Starting with Salesforce®, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions began to rain down on the market. But, unlike the decade or two before, these applications weren’t based on-prem. Now, they were coming from the cloud. If that wasn’t enough, Mac® systems were beginning to corner the hearts of designers and other professionals alike. Linux® was becoming the standard for engineering and data center computing environments. What was the solely on-prem, Windows-focused Active Directory to do?
In 2010, Microsoft released Azure®, a cloud-based computing engine compatible with both Windows and Linux machines. Included in the Azure Suite is a tool called Azure Active Directory®. For many, this seemed to be the solution to their AD dilema: a cloud-driven instance of Active Directory that could leverage SaaS products cleanly. Unfortunately, Azure AD is only a user management system for Azure users and a web application single sign-on (SSO) tool. Even the folks at Microsoft never intended for Azure to be the cloud replacement of AD.
So, if Azure AD isn’t the outsourced cloud Active Directory that people were looking for, are there other options? There are, of course, hosting providers that will setup an Active Directory instance for you in the cloud, but you are on the hook to manage it and furthermore, network all of your devices to the AD instance. Active Directory requires a direct connection to function, which ends up requiring VPNs if the systems aren’t local to the AD server. So, if a hosted Active Directory doesn’t solve the problem, and Azure AD isn’t an option, what are IT admins to do?
An Outsourced Cloud Active Directory Replacement
Recently, a new concept in identity management emerged which is a reimagination of Active Directory for the cloud era. This outsourced cloud Active Directory alternative is called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® (DaaS). With DaaS, IT organizations can manage all of their users, systems, servers, and networks from one cloud console. Additionally, Directory-as-a-Service features a Multi-tenant Portal for MSPs or other similar hosted IT services to manage multiple different companies’ IT needs from one pane of glass.
To explore JumpCloud as your outsourced cloud Active Directory option, contact us to learn more, or check out our YouTube channel. Interested in seeing Directory-as-a-Service firsthand? Consider scheduling a demo of the platform or sign up to try the DaaS product yourself. Not only is signing up free, it includes ten free users to get you started.