Is it too strong of a statement to believe that IT organizations won’t build their own data centers anymore? The last decade has been transformative in the IT and cloud infrastructure space. This transformation started in the late 1990s, as organizations started to move their internal data centers to those hosted by third parties. That movement started to build trust that a third party organization could host and manage an IT organization’s most critical systems. With the advent of virtualization at the turn of the century, a maturing Internet, and more cost-effective, powerful hardware, the ingredients were there for a massive shift.
The cloud infrastructure space really came into its own with the advent of Amazon Web Services (AWS™) in 2006. While there were many virtual private server (VPS) providers before AWS, nobody was making a significant dent in the market. Whether AWS launched the category or not, their approach to the IT infrastructure space was game changing. They took the Amazon retail mindset, and applied it to data centers and hosting. This approach had never been done before, and took the hosting market by storm (and surprise). AWS created cheap, high-performance servers that could do whatever you wanted them to, and only required you to pay by the hour. It was simple, cost-effective, and efficient.
IT organizations no longer had to build out data centers, procure servers, rack and stack them, manage the network with switches and routers, and then provide all of the monitoring and reliability issues for their infrastructure. There are so many hidden costs to running a data center that most organizations don’t account for, and as a result it was easy for AWS and cloud infrastructure providers to make a case for using their cloud servers rather than building a data center.
Startups and small organizations were the first to leverage AWS. Of course, a by-product of AWS’s business model was that startups could conserve their cash. Instead of their investment dollars going to purchase capital equipment, it could go to resources needed to build their product. This meant they could make more progress as a company with the same amount of money. That benefit was extremely attractive, because it meant that founders and employees of these organizations had the chance to make more money personally. Few technology changes can make an impact on an employee’s bottom line, but AWS was one solution that could.
More Begin to Adopt Cloud Infrastructure
AWS’s success has drawn competition from all of the major tech titans, including Google and Microsoft. There is no doubt that cloud infrastructure will continue to replace on-prem data centers, and we will see technology solutions such as virtualization and containers make these facilities far more efficient and cost-effective. But, there are also major challenges with cloud infrastructure in progress. For many organizations, moving to the cloud can be scary. Security concerns abound and the cost and time to shift from an on-prem facility to a shared cloud infrastructure provider can derail an IT organization for months or even years.
One of the chief concerns of moving to the cloud is the inability to control user access. AWS, cloud servers, and other Infrastructure-as-a-Service solutions have largely existed on an island. Connecting this infrastructure back to the on-prem identity provider is difficult and painful. In fact, many organizations will go through all kinds of unnatural acts to try and connect AWS cloud servers to Microsoft Active Directory®.
Making the Move to a Full Cloud Setup
As the cloud has matured, so too have the approaches to solving the critical issue of centralized user management. Instead of making an organization’s cloud infrastructure bend to their on-prem, legacy environments, cloud forward organizations are flipping the model. They are getting rid of their on-prem systems and requirements in favor of placing everything in the cloud. To that end, Microsoft Active Directory doesn’t fit into this go-forward, cloud-centric model, but the requirement for highly secure user access control is still there.
The cloud replacement for Active Directory is JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service® platform. This cloud-based directory is able to manage user access, systems (Windows, Mac, and Linux), networks (WiFi or on-prem), applications (SAML, LDAP), data, servers, and more. Plus, with features like RADIUS-as-a-Service, G Suite/O365 integration, and cloud LDAP, the DaaS platform truly enables your office for the cloud.
To learn more about AWS, VMs, and cloud infrastructure, contact us here. We would be happy to talk with you about the current path of IT infrastructure and where we see JumpCloud in all of it. In addition, you can try out our cloud directory for yourself. Your first 10 users are free forever, so there’s no reason not to take a test run and see how it works for you. Sign up for a free account today.