Can I Replace Active Directory® with Okta®

By Jon Griffin Posted February 10, 2018

replace active directory okta

Perhaps one of the most significant monopolies in the IT market is Microsoft’s with their directory services solution Active Directory® (AD). When it comes to medium to large businesses, Microsoft® has an overwhelming percentage of the market share with Active Directory. Since its release in 1999, AD has been a staple in organizations of all sizes. But, as the world shifts to the cloud, AD has become less and less functional on its own. Many SSO vendors have risen to prominence in that wake – with Okta® near the top of the heap – and as a result many admins have wondered whether or not an IT organization can replace Active Directory with Okta.

What Does Okta Actually Do?

Okta is one of the leading web application single sign-on (SSO) solutions today. Web app SSO solutions have risen to popularity today due to their ability to help AD connect to cloud-based identities and resources. Their solution works by leveraging AD identities, and then federating them to web applications. Web app SSO vendors like Okta are creating frictionless access to web applications, increasing control over IT resources, and improving security. As more web apps come into the enterprise the popularity of SSO solutions has only risen, creating one of the hottest categories in IT at the moment.

But as more IT infrastructure shifts to the cloud – e.g. servers, file storage, and much more – Active Directory is losing touch with more than just web application solutions. Are IT organizations better off eliminating Active Directory, and leveraging Okta’s Universal Directory instead?

It’s a good question, but it’s unfortunately a little off base – Okta’s Universal Directory is not a replacement for AD.

Why You Can’t Replace Active Directory With Okta

mac desktop

Unfortunately, Okta cannot serve as a total replacement to Active Directory. This is because AD serves as the identity provider for Windows systems, applications, file servers, and the network. Okta is using those AD identities to federate those users to web applications. Shifting to Okta as a cloud directory service will result in admins losing the ability to manage those systems, on-prem apps, file servers, and networks that AD touch. This means admins miss a great deal of what they need for control.

Even though Okta may not be the correct solution to replace on-prem AD, it doesn’t mean that a solution doesn’t exist. The ideal approach to replacing AD is to leverage a cloud-based directory service. This solution is called JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service®, and it is a complete replacement for Active Directory. With this directory you can continue to leverage Okta as cloud SSO, while having one solution to handle the rest of your systems, applications, files, and networks.

Replace Active Directory with JumpCloud

virtual true sso

JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is the ideal cloud-based directory for admins who want to regain easy and efficient control over their users and IT environment. This virtual directory service enables users to securely access their IT resources, regardless of the provider, protocol, platform, or location. This means systems (Mac, Windows, Linux), cloud and on-prem applications (via LDAP, SAML), virtual and physical servers (AWS, GCE), web and local storage (Box, Samba), and WiFi and wired networks (via RADIUS) can all be controlled with ease from one central location.

See what a directory built for the modern age of IT looks like, and sign up for a free account of JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service. We offer 10 users free forever, enabling a perfect opportunity to test the platform out and make sure it works for you. If you prefer to see a live demo, you can always sign up for a demo here. Questions? Contact the JumpCloud team and we would be happy to help.

Jon Griffin

Jon Griffin works as a writer for JumpCloud, an organization focused on bringing centralized IT to the modern organization. He graduated with a degree in Professional and Technical Writing from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and is an avid learner of new technology from cloud-based innovations to VR and more.

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