Auth0® vs Active Directory®

Written by Zach DeMeyer on August 11, 2019

Share This Article

The identity and access management (IAM) industry is a capricious one, with new vendors popping up in the space left and right. Despite the influx of new names, two longtime incumbents, Auth0® and Microsoft® Active Directory®, are under the microscope lately. Several IT admins are comparing Auth0 vs. Active Directory (AD), so it’s time to get to the bottom of it.

First off, is Auth0 vs. AD really a fair comparison? The short answer: no, it is akin to apples to oranges, or African Greys to green parrots. Both exist in the same overarching family (in this case, it’s IAM, instead of parrots or fruit), but each serves a very different purpose.

Active Directory and Auth0

Active Directory

Microsoft Active Directory is one of the most dominant products in the IAM space. Many know AD as the core identity provider (IdP) for an organization, and has long been used in many organizations worldwide since its inception around 2000. Effectively, this legacy, on-prem solution is what allows admins to manage the user identities for an internal Windows® network. IT organizations have relied on AD to connect users to their on-prem network, Windows systems, and applications.


Auth0, on the other hand, is a bit younger (founded in 2013) and less well-known of a company but is growing fast, their offices practically down the street in Seattle from Microsoft. Like AD, Auth0 is a big player in the IAM space, but instead focuses more on end user application access. Effectively, Auth0 is a cloud-based user database for an application, generally for mobile and web applications. Think of the solution as an external identity provider for an organization’s customers, while AD would be used for their internal employees.

With this in mind, it is easy to understand how some may get confused between Auth0 and Active Directory. In the end however, they really are quite different. Taking a step back and looking at the two more holistically, it seems that those who might confuse Auth0 and AD may have a larger concern.


Breaking Up with Active Directory

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

IAM from the Cloud

We know Auth0 is a cloud-based application access tool and AD is an on-prem directory service/IdP. So, perhaps, those who might be confusing the two are actually looking for some sort of amalgamation of each solution. This mash-up would result in a cloud-based identity provider that admins can use to federate access to applications, as well as the various other resources that their end users employ in their day-to-day.

Looking at IAM as a whole, we see that this sort of cloud directory service is in demand across the entire IAM space. More and more resources are being offered from the cloud, and traditional IdP solutions, AD included, are struggling to keep up and manage them all. 

Thankfully, a next generation identity provider is doing just that: comprehensive IAM from the cloud. This cloud directory service frontrunner, called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®, enables IT admins to manage their user base and virtually all of the IT resources they employ on a daily basis. With JumpCloud, IT admins have One Identity to Rule Them All®—that is, a single set of credentials that end users can leverage to access all of these resources, including systems, networks, applications, infrastructure, file servers, and more.

Try JumpCloud Free

Instead of worrying over Auth0 vs. Active Directory and which solution is better, you can centralize your organization’s IAM today with JumpCloud. What’s more, you can do so absolutely free, as signing up for Directory-as-a-Service automatically grants you ten complimentary users with access to the entire platform forever.

If you would like to learn more about JumpCloud, please contact us! Our expert staff would love to talk and share a free personalized demo to help you understand the extent of JumpCloud’s functionality before you dive in.

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.

Continue Learning with our Newsletter