By Ryan Squires Posted November 5, 2018
As the world moves to the cloud, many IT admins are wondering what the best directory service is based off of the needs of their organization. Most IT admins have known and used the legacy directory solutions, Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD or MAD) and OpenLDAP™. But, with a shift to the cloud happening before our eyes, does that change how we view the best directory service? Is there a new, cloud-forward solution that IT admins may not have considered?
Your Needs Determine the Best Directory
Before we answer those questions—which obviously depend a great deal upon the specific needs of each organization—we should dive into a bit of history on directory services. The modern directory service space kicked off with the advent of LDAP in 1993 by our JumpCloud® advisor, Tim Howes, and his colleagues at the University of Michigan. This invention would catalyze two critical solutions (among many others): Microsoft Active Directory and OpenLDAP. These two solutions would grow to take very different paths in the directory service space. As an open source tool with great flexibility, OpenLDAP is used for more technical applications. AD, of course, would go on to become the market share leader because on-prem Windows® systems and applications were the norm in the late 90’s and through the following decade.
But now, when we fast forward to today, we see that Windows is just a fraction of the network. Amazon Web Services® (AWS®) servers have replaced the on-prem data center of yore. Mac® and Linux endpoints are seemingly more popular than ever before. The Windows-based, on-prem applications that helped to make AD the force it was are now ceding to web applications like G Suite™, Slack, GitHub, and Salesforce®.
Modernization of Networks
Shifts in on-prem infrastructure have also helped to weaken the effectiveness of Active Directory, due to the struggles it has connect users to non-Windows resources. In the past, wired networks could be accessed following the successful input of a user’s credentials into the Windows login screen. Now, with the world moving to wireless networking a la WiFi, security gaps are becoming more apparent. Instead of authenticating into your machine and gaining access to the network, a shared SSID and network password are required for access to the network. As a result, many IT admins have to decide if securing the funding for and implementing an entire Microsoft Network Policy Server (NPS) is worth the hassle as compared to continually alternating the WiFi password. For many it’s not, but rotating the WiFi password is hardly the easy way out.
In short, traditional directory solutions are struggling to keep up with this new IT environment. The good news is that a new generation of cloud directory services is emerging to solve the many problems we’re seeing in the identity and access management (IAM) space. This solution is called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®. JumpCloud is LDAP and Active Directory reimagined for the cloud era. Because it allows access to cloud and on-prem applications like G Suite, AWS, DocuSign™, and Jira® with a single set of credentials from any system, it’s ready for whatever you throw at it.
Learn More About JumpCloud®
If you’re ready to learn more about how the best directory may be a cloud-based identity management solution, feel free drop us a line or sign up for a free account. Our free account allows you to manage up to ten users for free—forever. Additionally, feel free to check out our YouTube channel to learn more about best practices with helpful tutorials and informative whiteboard videos.