Next Generation Azure® Active Directory®

Written by George Lattimore on March 31, 2019

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Even though Azure® Active Directory® (AAD) is still relatively new, many IT admins are already wondering what the next generation of Azure Active Directory will look like. The reason for this is that there are implicit limitations to using AAD that involve vendor lock-in with Microsoft®. From here, the question really becomes how do we evolve an identity provider to be a neutral platform that can enable individuals at an organization to get work done, from anywhere, with any tool?

Understanding the Microsoft® Approach with AAD

Identity providers (IdP) are designed to connect users to the IT resources they need. In the case of the legacy platform, Active Directory, the idea was mainly focused on connecting users specifically to Windows® platforms and applications. Azure Active Directory is largely an extension of that; it isn’t designed to be a standalone directory service, but rather, a complement to the on-prem AD instance. The result is that IT organizations can tightly manage Windows users and systems along with Azure infrastructure. With Azure AD, they can also leverage the SAML protocol to connect to select web applications. But largely, the Active Directory family of solutions is designed to work best with Microsoft-based platforms.

So, what’s the real problem with this approach? Well, with the changing IT landscape, the number of IT resources that are non-Microsoft has quickly spiked and continued to soar. The addition of macOS® and Linux® systems, cloud infrastructure at AWS® and other IaaS providers, web applications, cloud and physical file servers using Samba, WiFi networks, and more, have pushed the Microsoft-centric platform design of Azure AD to its limits. For many IT organizations, admins, and managed service providers (MSPs), this thorn in the side of their management workflow has become too painful to ignore.

Evolving Towards an All-inclusive, Vendor-neutral Solution

The challenge for IT admins now becomes how to manage all of these resources seamlessly, hence the original question about what a next generation Azure Active Directory would look like. Regardless of where the employee is and what tools they need, IT admins in the modern office need an identity provider that empowers their employees to get work done, instead of limits them. Furthermore, the solution needs to be practical and powerful enough to not slow down the admin’s management workflow with add-ons and complex, disparate tooling.

The good news is that there is an innovative cloud directory platform that is connecting users to the IT resources they need regardless of platform (Mac, Linux, Windows), protocol (SAML, LDAP, etc.), provider (G Suite, O365, etc.) , and location (on-prem or in the cloud). Over 50k organizations have implemented JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® as their core identity provider, with many of these organizations migrating directly away from Active Directory and/or AAD.

Directory-as-a-Service® at Zero Cost

Ready to try out Directory-as-a-Service for yourself to see if it’s the next generation of Azure Active Directory? Getting started is completely free for your first 10 users, so go ahead and dig in. If you’ve got any questions along the way, feel free to send us a note and a product expert will get back to you shortly.

George Lattimore

George is a writer at JumpCloud, a central source for authenticating, authorizing, and managing your IT infrastructure through the cloud. With a degree in Marketing and an MS in Public Communications and Technology, George enjoys writing about how the IT landscape is adapting to a diversified field of technology.

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