By Ryan Squires Posted November 8, 2018
Is Azure® AD a good option for Managed Service Providers (MSPs)? There is nothing stopping MSPs from using Azure Active Directory® (AD) for their clients, but it is not really tailored to their needs. Adding confusion, MSPs are often unsure of whether Azure AD is a replacement to on-prem Active Directory and if it can provide them with a viable cloud identity management platform for their clients. With those questions in mind, continue reading to find out if Azure AD is something that MSPs can utilize to help streamline their clients’ operations.
What is Azure AD?
Azure AD is a user management platform for Azure (Microsoft®’s Infrastructure-as a-Service platform), as well as a web application single sign-on (SSO) solution. According a Microsoft brand representative in this Spiceworks thread, Azure AD is a complement to Active Directory®, instead of a standalone directory service:
“Azure Active Directory is not designed to be the cloud version of Active Directory. It is not a domain controller or a directory in the cloud that will provide the exact same capabilities with AD.”
Without conventional AD, Azure AD doesn’t really manage on-prem systems or resources, with the exception of Windows 10. Macs, Linux, and other versions of Windows are largely outside of Azure’s purview. So, for MSPs looking to replace their on-prem Active Directory instances at all of their clients’ organizations, it’s tough to make Azure AD fit the bill.
Azure’s limitations don’t end with system and endpoint management. Many cloud-based, non-Windows resources pose challenges for Azure, including: G Suite™, AWS®, Mac®, Linux®, LDAP-authenticating applications like Jira®, and OpenVPN™.
Finally, if IT admins want to bolster their WiFi security with RADIUS, Azure AD offers no way of doing so. So, Azure alone is a tough sell for MSPs who are looking for cloud IAM that can handle all the the resources their client’s want to utilize, whether they’re on-prem, in the cloud, Windows-based, or not.
What do MSPs Want?
For one, MSPs want to sleep at night – and that means strong endpoint security in place for each one of their clients. With Azure AD alone, all the unmanaged resources listed above represent security risks. MSPs will either need to turn to additional tooling or are likely to experience some anxiety at the thought unsecured workstations out in the wild managed manually (not to mention the amount of work).
MSPs are interested in solutions that can provide a single multi-tenant console across all of their clients. That would centralize all of their clients’ IT resources into a single “pane of glass”. If they could find such a solution, it would enable engineers and technicians within an MSP organization to increase their efficiency. Along with a cloud-based solution, this feature would dramatically reduce the time spent dealing with break/fix situations and one-off accounts. Furthermore, with management happening in the cloud, MSPs would be able to put an end to the time-consuming truck rolls that normally accompany servicing a client’s malfunctioning on-prem implementations.
An Alternative to Azure AD for MSPs Emerges
The good news is that there is an alternative for Azure AD for MSPs that may be a viable cloud directory service. JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® is tailored to the MSP market and enables MSPs and their clients to shift away from on-prem directory services such as Active Directory, while not getting tied to Azure AD. With the Multi-Tenant Portal, MSPs finally have a cloud-based portal to centralize all of their clients into one convenient pane of glass. They can stop being spread so thin and simply manage their clients remotely. With JumpCloud’s centralized Multi-Tenant Portal approach, MSPs can achieve the efficiency they’ve only dreamed of, until now.
Once MSPs dig into JumpCloud a little bit, they’ll also notice they’re able to manage far more IT infrastructure than they could with Azure AD / Active Directory and and its various add-ons. For example, JumpCloud allows users the freedom to choose their preferred operating system, Windows®, Mac®, or Linux® with no identity bridges required. Also, JumpCloud streamlines access to cloud infrastructure like AWS®, Azure, and GCE with SSH key management. With Azure AD, of course you’ll be able to access your Azure VMs easily, but competing infrastructures are left out in the cold.
For clients of MSPs who want to enhance their network security, JumpCloud allows for the implementation of RADIUS with no server set up and maintenance. Just point your wireless infrastructure at RADIUS-as-a-Service and secure each network. With JumpCloud’s True Single Sign-On™, MSPs can have clients log into all of these resources with one single set of credentials and many more. Instead of MSPs having to manage tens to hundreds of credentials for each individual, now they can leverage one identity and one password. So, password changes become a breeze because with JumpCloud a single password change results in a global password reset. JumpCloud is a turnkey solution tailor made for MSPs.
Learn More About JumpCloud
As a platform-agnostic reimagination of Azure AD for MSPs, JumpCloud can centralize your clients into a single panel and give them the freedom to choose the resources they want without being tied to specific vendors. If this sounds like a winning formula for you, please apply to be a Partner today and one of the members of our Partner Support Team will follow up.
About the Partner Program
JumpCloud’s Partner Program empowers IT Service Providers with central identity management from the cloud. Fine-tuned for cloud security offerings, Directory-as-a-Service can be easily bundled at the center of any product stack to make your business, and your clients’ businesses, more efficient and scalable. Make Work Happen™ for your clients while you make more for your business.