Best Directory Service

Written by Zach DeMeyer on September 5, 2018

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Today’s IT market is rapidly changing. With a general increase in security breaches and respondent uptick in compliance requirements, the identity management space is certainly becoming a hot spot of industry focus. Identity management has almost always been handled by an identity provider, like a directory service. As organizations explore their options, the hunt for the best directory service is on.

Is the Most Popular Directory Service the Best?

replacing AD with Google IDaaS

Historically, Microsoft® Active Directory® has been the most popular on-prem directory service. Observing the nature of the IT scene, it’s obvious why this was the case. The workplace in the 1990s to early 2000s was almost entirely Windows®-based. Microsoft took advantage of their dominant position with Windows systems and applications, leveraging Active Directory as a way to manage them all from a user identity standpoint (and the systems themselves, too).

A Shift in Popularity

We all know that the most popular isn’t always the best. Over time, we can see how much IT infrastructure has changed. No longer is Windows the most dominant platform; in the last five years, Mac adoption has risen over 150% and Linux has almost doubled (Statista). Applications have shifted to the web with popular non-Microsoft solutions such as G Suite™, Slack™, GitHub, Salesforce®, and thousands of others. Windows file servers are often giving way to NAS appliances, Samba file servers, cloud solutions such as Google Drive™ and Box™, and many others.

Essentially, all of the factors for AD’s popularity are no longer pertinent. Few organizations are solely Windows-based, and even fewer are solely on-prem. In short, Active Directory may have been the most popular solution, but is it still the best?

Exploring Options

Directory Services Options

Because of the limitations of Active Directory, it clearly cannot be the best directory service for every situation. What other options are there, then? Well, OpenLDAP can always be an option, although it is really best used for Linux environments, on-prem resources, and other more technical/computational foci. In the same vein is RedHat’s 389 protocol, a more slimmed down version of LDAP used after the company denounced OpenLDAP. Apache Directory Service is another choice that is similar to OpenLDAP, although it is not as customizable as OpenLDAP. Apache also is mainly used as an LDAP instance as well, so it has difficulty connecting to the cloud.

Some believe that an SSO solution could be used as a directory service. However, conventional single sign-on (SSO) tools are a far cry from directory services. While SSOs can provide similar user identity and access management to a directory service, they don’t have system management capabilities like a directory service, and act more as a go between for directories like AD and cloud-based applications.

Cloud Directory Services

Today’s best directory service features a completely differently architecture than these options. IT organizations are searching for a cloud directory service that securely manages and connects users to their IT resources including systems, applications, files, and networks regardless of their platform, protocol, provider, and location. Many think that this sort of capability could come from Azure® Active Directory®, a cloud companion to AD. Some even believe Azure AD to be a cloud replacement for the on-prem Active Directory. It is not, however, and instead is more akin to a web-app SSO tool, with Azure-focused user management built in, similar to AWS® or Google Cloud IAM, which are user management platforms for their respective cloud infrastructure services.

A true cloud directory service, and ultimately, the best directory service, is one that provides the complete directory service package in one solution. The complete package includes user authentication and True Single Sign-on™ through LDAP, SAML, and RADIUS as well as native authentication for all three major OS platforms. The best directory service should also offer a suite of security features to safeguard user identities. Most of all, the best directory service must be platform-agnostic, and capable of being leveraged by anyone, anywhere.

JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®: The Best Directory Service

JumpCloud directory-as-a-service

Because of these features and many more, we believe JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® (DaaS) is the best directory service available on the market. A cloud-based reimagining of Active Directory, the DaaS platform offers all the aforementioned facets of the best directory service at an affordable price. In fact, you can try JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service right now, absolutely free. We’ve even thrown in your first ten users for no charge to get you started.

Contact us to learn more about how JumpCloud is the best directory service for you. You can also check out our YouTube channel for more information, as well as tutorials to get you started. Feel free to explore our Knowledge Base and blog to see more of what JumpCloud has to offer.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a Product Marketing Specialist at JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, music, and soccer.

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