Alternative to AD Integration for Linux® Systems

Written by Zach DeMeyer on July 24, 2018

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One of the most popular operating systems in the development scene today is Linux®. The scene was once ruled by Windows® systems, which dominated the industry for decades. In the modern era, however, Linux systems are taking over, providing increased security and control compared to their Windows counterparts.

Despite the fall in Windows system popularity, Microsoft Active Directory (MAD or AD) is still the widely used directory services in the market today. Even though Linux is becoming a dominant force in the workplace, Microsoft has recently removed the Identity Management for Unix/Network Information Server (IDMU/NIS) roles from AD, which allowed for the integration of Linux systems into AD. The change has left many IT admins wondering, is there an alternative to AD integration for Linux systems?

Why Need an Alternative?

frustrated man dealing with microsoft active directory maybe

In fact, according to Microsoft, those who want to authenticate Linux systems using IDMU/NIS in AD are, as put by a Spiceworks user, recommended “to plan for an alternate method of AD integration for *ix operating systems.” But why did Microsoft remove this functionality?

In their release regarding the change, Microsoft said that enabling NIS posed a high security risk to AD, and the “outdated” client was losing its clout in the industry. Many enterprises, however, still leverage Linux in their day-to-day operations.

For these folks, Microsoft offers up several possibilities as alternatives to NIS. These include native LDAP, Samba, and Kerberos, among others. While these options could certainly work, they can add additional layers of difficulty for the admins implementing them.

For instance, leveraging native LDAP servers requires a lot of leg work to be introduced into an IT organization, and, for those who are unfamiliar with it, this presents a rather difficult process. Clearly, for integrating Linux systems into Active Directory, a unified, easy-to-use method would be ideal.

A Solution from the Cloud

cloud solution

Cloud-based unified access management could provide just the fix needed. By leveraging one such solution, the weight of implementing an AD integration alternative for Linux could be lifted off both IT admins and their networks themselves. Not only that, cloud-based directories can even alleviate the need of Active Directory altogether.

If the idea of a cloud-based directory as an alternative to AD integration for Linux systems seems appealing to you, look no further than JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service.

Alternative to AD Integration for Linux Systems with JumpCloud

system management

JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is a reimagination of Active Directory and LDAP for the cloud era, which can be remotely managed via a web browser console. Sysadmins can maintain their fleet of systems from anywhere, no matter the platform (i.e. Windows, Mac®, & Linux), provider (AWS®, GCP, G Suite™, O365™, etc.), and protocol (LDAP, RADIUS, SAML, native authentication methods, and more). JumpCloud also offers a set of Policies that function like cross-platform GPOs—the bread and butter of Active Directory.

To provide the full feature set of a directory service, JumpCloud also connects to WiFi networks and file servers. JumpCloud takes a multi-protocol approach, offering LDAP-as-a-Service, RADIUS-as-a-Service, and SSO through SAML 2.0.

JumpCloud also has a built-in AD Integration feature, which facilitates an easy connection between JumpCloud and Active Directory. This means that it is an effective alternative to integrating Linux systems (and non-Windows IT resources) in to AD. Designed for improving IT processes, JumpCloud ultimately makes work happen.

If you need to leverage an easy-to-use alternative to AD integration for Linux systems, check out JumpCloud today. You can sign up for JumpCloud for free, with your first ten users included for free forever. If you want to see JumpCloud in action, you can schedule a demo. Questions or comments? Be sure to drop us a line or check out our Knowledge Base.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a Product Marketing Specialist at JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, music, and soccer.

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