Ensuring Availability with your Directory Service

Written by Zach DeMeyer on April 27, 2020

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Updated on April 24, 2020

With the sudden shift to remote work, many IT admins are evaluating their business continuity plans. Chief among those considerations is keeping end users working. Ensuring availability with your directory service is crucial to maintaining a productive remote workforce.

Why the Directory Service?

A key part of establishing an efficient distributed workforce is ensuring that users have continual access to their IT resources, such as systems, applications, files, and networks. Historically, the IT solution responsible for that has been the directory service and in many cases, the legacy, on-premises Microsoft® solution, called Active Directory® as their directory of choice.

Active Directory (AD) ruled over IT environments for many years, providing a single identity for end users to access all of their IT resources. This concept became known as the domain, a perimeter-protected space where everything inside — users, systems, networks, data, etc. — was protected from any outside threats.

Over time, different types of IT resources emerged — non-Windows® systems (e.g. Mac and Linux), web applications, IaaS, etc. — which all fell outside of the AD domain, meaning they were unmanaged and subsequently more vulnerable to attack. IT admins added more identity management solutions to extend their AD identities to these different IT resources. Although these solutions helped address some of the management challenges IT admins faced, they introduced more costs, integration work, and vendor relationships for the admin to keep track of as well. 

Ensuring Availability with the Cloud

Now, IT admins are scrambling to make sure that their entire IT infrastructure stays up and running while organizations shift to a work from home model. And, if there are any issues, admins also need to make sure that end user productivity isn’t impacted, or else the issue must be fixed immediately.

The challenge is that, with an on-prem, self-managed solution like AD the risk of having problems or downtime dramatically increases. AD can’t easily extend to remote systems and users, and IT admins are less likely to be working in the office, so they are limited in their ability to deal with directory service outages anyway.

IT organizations in this scenario need to step back and consider their identity management infrastructure as a whole, asking themselves “Is AD really necessary, or could I consider an alternative? If AD is essential, are the other identity management tools I’ve added on getting the job done? How am I managing AD remotely?”

If you’ve been asking any of these questions of your directory service, consider seeking out a cloud directory service option. With a cloud directory service, you can completely replace your AD instance, or even remotely manage and extend AD to all of your non-domain resources without having to spend more for add-on tools.

To learn more about leveraging a cloud directory service to ensure availability for your organization, contact us with your questions, or check out this interview with an IT admin who chose a cloud directory service over AD and shifted his client to a remote work model.

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