Is There A Better Alternative to Active Directory®?

By Natalie Bluhm Posted January 30, 2018

active directory alternative

According to Gartner, public cloud adoption can save an organization 14% of their budget. So it makes sense that over the next year, IT admins are dedicating 80% of their IT budgets toward cloud solutions. With cloud transformation underway in many organizations, IT admins are asking: is there a better alternative to Active Directory®? The answer is yes. There is a replacement to Active Directory that is better suited for modern organizations.

Before we dive into the alternative to AD, let’s step back and understand what IT organizations are looking for in an AD replacement.

The Rise of Active Directory

identity management active directory

Active Directory’s story actually begins in the 1980’s and 90’s. During this time frame, personal computers started appearing on every employee’s desk; the internet and the world wide web had emerged; and productivity software and email became common tools for completing everyday tasks.

As the workplace transformed, IT was at a loss for effectively and efficiently managing user access to these new resources. Then in 1999, Microsoft® Active Directory® was created. Using LDAP and Kerberos, Active Directory provided IT with centralized user and system management over the Microsoft resources in their on-prem environment. The key words to pay attention to here are “Microsoft” and “on-prem”. Infrastructure only existed on-prem, and every resource that dominated the office was from Microsoft: Microsoft Windows®, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Exchange. As long as IT environments stuck to this ecosystem, IT admins only had to leverage one solution to manage their company’s identities.

Modern IT Calls for a Better Alternative to Active Directory

Active Directory fails in the cloud

Shortly after Active Directory was introduced, web-based applications took off, with Salesforce paving the way. Then, Mac and Linux systems started replacing Windows workstations. The cloud as we know it launched, and revolutionized infrastructure, file storage, processing, and development tools. The IT network today is starkly different than it was even a decade ago.

Active Directory wasn’t built to integrate with Mac or Linux systems, web-based applications, or the cloud. As each of these new resources started to proliferate in the workplace, third-party solutions were created to help Active Directory connect to these non-Microsoft systems, applications, and networks. Eventually, IT found themselves needing Active Directory and a plethora of other solutions just to maintain some identity management. This kind of setup has ended up being quite costly, and it has also created a cumbersome workflow for end users and IT admins.

Additionally, this setup forces IT to hang onto their on-prem infrastructure. This prevents them from fully taking advantage of the efficiencies and low costs a cloud IT environment has to offer. For example, organizations that leverage an identity management solution from the cloud don’t have to worry about upgrading hardware every few years. With the right solution, IT also won’t have to worry about availability and maintenance. Plus, a better alternative to Active Directory will embrace the variety of resources a modern office uses on a daily basis. The good news is that a better alternative to Active Directory does exist. It is called JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service, and this modern cloud identity management platform is changing the game in IAM. In fact, JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is reimagining Active Directory and LDAP for the cloud era.

JumpCloud is a Better Alternative to Active Directory


JumpCloud acts as the core identity provider from the cloud, providing IT admins with one solution that centralizes user and system management across their entire environment.

Users enjoy seamless access to their system (Windows, Mac, and Linux), local and remote servers (AWS, GCP etc.), LDAP and SAML based applications, physical and virtual file storage, and wired and wireless networks via RADIUS. IT admins don’t have to worry about availability, maintenance, or management. Instead that is all taken care of by JumpCloud, and IT simply gets to enjoy the benefit of a cloud alternative to Active Directory.  

If you would like to learn more about a better alternative to Active Directory, please reach out to us. You are also encouraged to sign up for a free account. You’ll be able to explore all of our features, and your first ten users are free forever.

Natalie Bluhm

Natalie is a writer for JumpCloud, an Identity and Access Management solution designed for the cloud era. Natalie graduated with a degree in professional and technical writing, and she loves learning about cloud infrastructure, identity security, and IT protocols.

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