Azure Active Directory® Competition

Written by George Lattimore on June 5, 2019

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Does Azure Active Directory® (AAD or Azure AD) competition exist out there that is actually worth considering? Well, while the answer here depends on the needs of the IT environment in question, the overarching answer is a resounding yes. Why? Let’s take a quick dive into Azure AD’s strategy and functionality to uncover some key criteria for evaluating its competition.

AD vs AAD: Seeing the Forest for the Trees

As Microsoft has acknowledged in the past, there is a great deal of confusion surrounding the on-prem Active Directory and cloud-based Azure AD—and when to use each solution. That confusion initially stems from the fact that Microsoft® used the same label (i.e., Active Directory) for both solutions, even though AAD is fundamentally not a replacement for AD. In fact, Azure AD is largely a complementary platform to AD and a cloud extension to the legacy, on-prem identity provider.

How does this work though? Well, AAD is essentially a user management system for Azure infrastructure services and a web application single sign-on (SSO) platform. From Microsoft’s perspective, the ideal reference architecture for identity and access management (IAM) within an organization is Active Directory on-prem as the authoritative source of truth for an identity. Then, Azure AD acts as the extension for cloud and web resources, daisy chained together to AD by Azure AD Connect. Each one of these Microsoft solutions requires its own license.

Moving Forward with a Flexible Alternative

For solely Microsoft and Azure-based IT organizations, the AD + Azure AD approach makes a great deal of sense. But, for modern IT organizations that are leveraging a wide range of non-Windows®-based solutions (i.e., the vast majority), this Active Directory-centric approach doesn’t work well. It lacks the flexibility and management practicality needed to support the diverse array of resources today’s employees demand.

Thankfully, the result of this limitation is that real competition is emerging, not only for Azure Active Directory, but AD as well. In fact, a next-generation cloud identity management approach is effectively eliminating the need for on-prem AD while also extending the concept of directory services to a wide range of IT solutions that include Azure AD. Non-Microsoft solutions that can also be accessed include Mac® and Linux® systems, AWS® cloud servers, G Suite™ and Office 365™, Kubernetes and Docker, GitHub and Slack, and a wide range of other IT resources.

JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® is reimagining Active Directory for the cloud era. Regardless of protocol, platform, provider, or location, end users can freely access IT resources with one secure login. IT admins and managed service providers (MSPs) around the world use JumpCloud for user, system, and network management and meet compliance regulations.

While this solution can greatly reduce the daily management stress for IT pros, how does it actually impact the employees and end users? Can directory services actually make a difference on the bottom line? Absolutely.

Try Using Directory-as-a-Service® for Free

If you’d like to see how an alternative directory services solution would work from within your own IT environment, on your own terms, go ahead and dig in. Over 75,000 organizations already have implemented JumpCloud, and anyone in need is encouraged to explore the functionality to the fullest. What’s more, no credit card is needed at all for your first 10 users. Beginning with the 11th user, monthly or annual subscription pricing is available.

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