Apache Directory Server vs. OpenLDAP

Written by Greg Keller on August 3, 2020

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As you consider how to implement LDAP in your organization, you have two options in Apache Directory Server and OpenLDAP.

OpenLDAP has been the most popular LDAP implementation for a number of years, but Apache Directory Server is another popular solution. ApacheDS supports functionality beyond LDAP, as well as a set of integrated management tools. However, both services require on-premises infrastructure and technical management.

As you assess, it’s worthwhile to look at your critical requirements — including what you hope to achieve with the LDAP database and schema. Here, we’ll give you a checklist to use to assess your options, as well as explore new cloud-based alternatives.

Assessing Your LDAP Requirements

Flexibility & Expertise

Consider the level of experience and expertise your team has before implementing either open-source LDAP solution. In particular, OpenLDAP is more command-line oriented. This means you have more flexibility in what you can do, but with that flexibility comes the requirement that you have more knowledge and experience with the platform. 

Management Tools

Apache Directory Server comes with Apache Directory Studio, a collection of server management tools for LDAP and for ApacheDS. These tools include an LDAP browser, LDIF editor, and schema editor. They’re meant to reduce the burden on IT teams managing the LDAP platform. As for OpenLDAP, you can use third-party management tools in conjunction with it, but it’s primarily driven via the command line.

Stored Procedures, Triggers

With Apache Directory Server, you have the ability to run stored procedures and triggers in the LDAP database. This gives you more control over the database and maintenance and management tasks than you would have in an OpenLDAP implementation.


Each LDAP platform can perform well, but it’s best to load your dataset and run identical tests across each platform to see which one performs better. Third-party data shows each directory server performing well, but it will depend on your specific dataset, what you’re doing with the identity provider, and the load you are placing on the platform.


Instead of implementing an on-premises LDAP server, you can also consider offloading the work of running and managing it to a cloud-hosted LDAP service. That way, you eliminate the setup and management labor needed but still ensure secure authentication for resources that require a backing LDAP directory, such as legacy applications, Samba file servers, and NAS appliances. 

The Cloud-Hosted Alternative to Apache Directory or OpenLDAP

JumpCloud is a cloud directory service that connects users to the IT resources they need, regardless of protocol, provider, platform, or location. You federate core user identities to workstations, applications, networks, and other IT resources — and a key part of this is the Cloud LDAP functionality. JumpCloud has a globally distributed network of load-balanced LDAP servers, so you simply point your LDAP-based applications and resources at JumpCloud’s LDAP endpoint for authentication.

Beyond LDAP, JumpCloud features cloud-based RADIUS, SAML, and other critical IT protocols, as well as directory integrations to synchronize identities with Active Directory, Google Workspace, and Microsoft 365. Using JumpCloud, you can manage user identities and devices — macOS, Windows, and Linux — from the cloud without adding on-prem infrastructure. 


Securely connect to any resource using Google Workspace and JumpCloud.

Greg Keller

JumpCloud CTO, Greg Keller is a career product visionary and executive management leader. With over two decades of product management, product marketing, and operations experience ranging from startups to global organizations, Greg excels in successful go-to-market execution.

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