The Best Directory Services Solution

By Vince Lujan Posted August 2, 2019

As the IT landscape shifts to the cloud, IT admins are in search of the best directory services solution to support their growing networks. The challenge is that modern IT networks can be highly complex—leveraging an array of disparate IT resources both on-prem and in the cloud—and traditional identity provider (IdP) platforms often struggle to manage them. 

The good news is that the cloud has enabled developers to breathe new life into the directory services category, which has been stagnant for decades. Now, a comprehensive new cloud directory can deliver the functionality that was once only possible with a range of IAM solutions layered on top of a legacy IdP. 

Traditional Directory Services

Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) has been the preferred directory services platform for nearly twenty years now. Active Directory is a traditional IdP that is used to manage on-prem networks of Windows®-based IT resources. 

Microsoft designed AD to be the best directory services solution for the traditional, Windows-based networks of old, which is why the twenty year old platform has remained relevant into the modern age. However, as the IT world shifts to the cloud and away from a Windows foundation on-prem, IT admins are realizing that AD may no longer be the best directory services solution for modern networks (and with good reason too). 

While AD is great for traditional Windows environments, the modern IT landscape is far from traditional or Windows-based. Unfortunately, the legacy AD platform struggles to manage newer innovations such as macOS® systems and Linux® servers, web applications and cloud infrastructure, non-Windows file servers and NAS devices, and really anything that isn’t on-prem nor a Microsoft product. The downstream effect is that IT admins have then been forced to implement multiple directory extension technologies such as identity bridges, web application single sign-on (SSO), privileged identity management (PIM), and more to extend AD to a wider range of IT resources than Windows alone. 

Sadly, the add-on approach has been the norm for many years now. To add insult to injury, as more non-Windows resources come to market albeit in the cloud or on-prem, IT admins will need more add-ons to tether them back to AD (should they maintain the status quo). The good news is that a next generation Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) solution has emerged that is changing the way IT admins think about directory services. Happily, cloud-forward IT admins are breaking free from Microsoft’s walled garden with a new solution that is enhancing security and convenience. 

Next Generation Directory Services

Called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®, this next generation cloud IdP is a reimagination of Active Directory and LDAP for the cloud era. That is, a cross-platform, vendor-neutral, protocol-driven directory services platform delivered “as-a-Service”. This approach enables JumpCloud to connect users to virtually any IT resource—regardless of the platform, protocol, provider, or placement—without having to implement or maintain anything on-prem. 

The JumpCloud platform also offers a number of mechanisms to ensure that user authentication is secure throughout your network. Think multi-factor authentication (MFA), SSH key management, PKI, system policies, and more. The end result is that IT organizations can shift the majority (if not all) of their legacy IAM infrastructure to a comprehensive cloud alternative, at a fraction of the cost of traditional implementations. 

The Best Directory Services Solution?

For that reason, Directory-as-a-Service may very well be the best directory services solution for modern networks—but don’t take my word for it. Sign up for a free account and check out JumpCloud today. You’ll have access to just about everything that JumpCloud has to offer for up to ten users free, and there’s no limit to how long you can explore the Directory-as-a-Service platform. Of course, don’t hesitate to contact JumpCloud if you have any questions. 

Vince Lujan

Vince is a writer and videographer at JumpCloud. Originally from a small village just outside of Albuquerque, he now calls Boulder home. When Vince is not developing content for JumpCloud, he can usually be found doing creek stuff.

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