AD DS Alternative

Written by Ryan Squires on March 20, 2019

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Why are organizations looking for an AD DS alternative? Active Directory® Domain Services is the on-prem Windows® server role for controlling and managing domain services. As a part of that role, providing user access to Windows-based IT resources is a key feature. The challenge for IT organizations is that their all Windows, on-prem networks are changing dramatically, which makes AD DS less relevant. Simply put, there are just too many non-Windows resources entering IT networks, plus many resources exist outside of the domain.

Non-Microsoft® Tools and the Future of the Domain

With macOS® systems, Amazon Web Services® (AWS®), G Suite™, WiFi, and other technology solidifying their places in IT networks, IT organizations are struggling to manage access to these varied, non-Windows resources in a pure AD environment. It isn’t just the fact that these resources are not based on Windows, either. The fact that these newer IT resources are off-prem is creating some challenges too. Because the concept of AD DS exists within a centralized LAN, resources outside of that domain require workarounds to connect to. The result is that access to these resources can only be managed by adding solutions on to AD. That means more integration work and expense overall. Where resources and operating expenses are tight, this can prove troublesome.

An even more dramatic scenario exists as well, the concept of the domain itself may be evaporating. On-prem infrastructure, in many organizations, has largely boiled down to a WiFi connection and a café-style network. Plus, the security initiative, Zero Trust Security, asserts that nothing on the network can be trusted, including users, systems, and even applications. Zero Trust Security maintains that multiple levels of authentication and authorization must be achieved as well. With the domain, once you’ve properly entered your credentials, access is granted to all IT resources on that domain. There is generally no need to provide multi-factor authentication TOTP (time-based one-time passwords), so even if the credentials entered are correct, there is no way to know for certain if the person granted access to particular resources is in fact that individual. In short, the internal trusted network and the untrusted exterior is a concept that Zero Trust eschews.

AD DS is Old News, Welcome to the Cloud Era

With AD DS becoming less relevant to the evolving IT network and lacking the security focus of newer, modern IT realities many are wondering whether there is an AD DS alternative that still gives IT control over user access while enabling users with frictionless access to their IT resources. Frictionless access could be referred to as the early days of the all Windows-based IT network. With everything a user needed on the domain, all that was required was a successful login and all a user’s resources would be available. Now, many want that same frictionless access without a domain. For those, a next-generation IAM platform is reimagining the concept of AD DS for the cloud era.

Called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®, this cloud directory service is securely managing and connecting users to their IT resources including systems (Windows, Mac®, Linux®) cloud and on-prem servers (AWS®, GCE), web and on-prem applications via SAML and LDAP respectively, physical and virtual file servers, and wired and WiFi networks through RADIUS and VLAN tagging. With True Single Sign-On™, all of these IT resources are easily accessible with a single set of credentials, just like the early days of the domain. It is AD DS reimagined.

Learn More About JumpCloud

If you’re looking for an AD DS alternative built for the cloud era and Zero Trust Security, give JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service an evaluation today. Sign up for a free JumpCloud account and get immediate access to the full-featured version of Directory-as-a-Service. We’ll even throw in the ability to manage 10 users free, forever. Once you’re signed up, navigate over to our Knowledge Base to help you with any integrations that you may need. Or, simply contact a product expert and we’ll be happy to look over your options with you.

Ryan Squires

Ryan Squires is a content writer at JumpCloud, a company dedicated to connecting users to the IT resources they need securely and efficiently. He has a degree in Journalism and Media Communication from Colorado State University.

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