Why Use a Directory Service?

Written by Megan Anderson on November 11, 2019

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As an IT admin in today’s technologically-advanced world, you may be wondering if an on-prem directory service is still a good option for your company. You know that things are trending toward the cloud, ultimately rendering on-prem solutions obsolete. However, the top two directory services ⁠— Active Directory® and OpenLDAP™ ⁠— utilize on-prem servers. The question now becomes, why use a directory service?

You may be tempted to eschew directory services and do everything manually, but it’s important to acknowledge the vital role a directory service plays in the operation of your organization. It does the heavy lifting of controlling which users can access specific resources, allowing them to sign in automatically to the resources they’ve been provisioned, and can be used to audit your objects and attributes.

Without a directory service, you’re essentially doing twice as much work than you need to. So what is the alternative to on-prem directory services?

Outsource Your Directory Service

With regard to IT, outsourcing your directory service can be tricky as it involves trusting a third-party with the identities of your organization’s members. The idea of relinquishing that kind of sensitive information is enough to make anyone hesitate.

However, hosting your own directory service on-prem poses many security risks. Among them are:

  • Infrequent updates: On-prem directories become outdated faster, meaning that bringing them up to date requires more work on your part. 
  • Low on-prem security: Anyone who has physical access to the server(s) can acquire the information stored there. Few small- to mid-sized organizations have enough resources to spare for security beyond a locked door, not to mention all of the virtual security needed to protect critical infrastructure.
  • Human error: On-prem solutions are generally harder to implement, particularly in the absence of a specialist. This could lead to any number of potentially compromising human errors.

In any case, admins using on-prem directories already have limited control over users’ identities in today’s IT landscape. In fact, 96% of all organizations use the cloud in some capacity, according to CIO Magazine. Admins now have two choices: Either create multiple credentials per user, per application, and manage each one individually, or use third-party services to connect their on-prem directory to web applications and other IT resources.

By outsourcing your directory service, you can focus on more pressing matters while allowing specialists to take care of the infrastructure. With the adoption of the cloud, going with a cloud-hosted identity provider is often the best choice for IT organizations.

Benefits of a Cloud-Hosted Directory Service

By using a cloud-hosted directory service, you can control more while doing less. You can securely manage and connect users to all of their IT resources regardless of where they’re working and what machine they’re using. 

In addition, there is no need for supplemental services to help connect your cloud directory to all of your other resources. By extension, there is no need for you to manage multiple identities for individual people. This reduces identity sprawl, making it much easier to monitor users’ activities while helping to prevent the loss of their credentials and giving you greater control over their access privileges.

There are also frequent, automatic updates to a cloud-based directory. This ensures that no matter what new developments crop up in IT, your directory will be able to handle them. Plus, hosting your directory in the cloud heavily enforces a zero trust policy, thereby eliminating any physical threat to your user’s identities. 

Learn More

Still wondering why you should use a directory service? To experience all the benefits a cloud directory service provides, sign up for a free account. More questions? Contact us today to learn how you can manage users entirely through the cloud.

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