Azure Active Directory vs. JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service

Written by Greg Keller on November 24, 2015

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Cloud-based directory services are hot. With the move to the cloud for infrastructure and applications, a corresponding directory service is needed as well. Of course, cloud-based user authentication can be disconcerting to some. Keeping identities in the cloud can feel unsafe. With Microsoft® and JumpCloud® both delivering a cloud-based user management system, organizations are gaining significant confidence in cloud-based directory services. Once organizations have made the decision to move to the cloud with their directory, the question becomes which of the two solutions—Azure® Active Directory® (AD) or JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service® (DaaS)—to choose?

Azure AD or DaaS: Which Product is Right for You?

The choice starts with establishing requirements. Both solutions can be extremely valuable in the right scenarios. The core areas of difference, which will ultimately shape how to choose, are below:

Authentication and Management of On-premises and Cloud-based Resources

If you are looking for a cloud-based directory to serve your on-premises devices – laptops, desktops, and servers – then you would need to choose either an on-premises Active Directory version, which would connect to the Azure cloud-based AD, or JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service. DaaS is delivered from the cloud, but services on-premises IT resources as well. Azure Active Directory is specifically for the Azure cloud-based resources.

Cross-platform Authentication Support  

If your network is all Microsoft Windows® in the cloud, then connecting to Azure Active Directory will work well. If your network is cross-platform and includes Macs® and Linux® devices, then Directory-as-a-Service will end up being a better fit for you. Microsoft has historically focused on close integration with its own platforms. Since DaaS is delivered agnostically, it serves all three major operating system platforms.

Cross-platform Device Management

Managing your devices is a key function of directory services solutions. In the case of Azure AD, you can manage Windows devices through GPOs. JumpCloud extends the concept of GPOs to allow the execution of policies and tasks across Windows, Mac, and Linux devices. If your infrastructure is heterogeneous, then you’ll want to go with DaaS. If it is all Windows in the cloud, then Azure Active Directory may be a better option.

Cross-provider Infrastructure-as-a-Service Support

If your network infrastructure sits in AWS®, Google Compute Engine™, or at another non-Microsoft Azure IDaaS provider, then you will struggle to manage authentication services to Azure AD. JumpCloud DaaS is provider independent and integrates seamlessly with all IaaS providers, including Azure itself.

JumpCloud: The Flexible Solution

JumpCloud directory-as-a-service

There are clear distinctions between JumpCloud DaaS and Azure Active Directory. If your environment is completely Windows and located in Azure, then Azure AD will be a good option for you. If you have other resources such as Macs or Linux devices, Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers other than Azure, or other non-Microsoft applications, then JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service will be a better option for you.

If you would like to learn more about the differences between Azure Active Directory and JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service, drop us a note. Or, feel free to sign-up for a free trial and see for yourself. Your first 10 users are free forever.

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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