What’s Cheaper than Active Directory®?

Written by Natalie Bluhm on May 1, 2019

Share This Article

Due to clever licensing and packaging, many in the IT industry believe that Microsoft®Active Directory® (AD) is free. If Active Directory is free, is there really an option that’s cheaper than Active Directory? Let’s face it. You can’t get cheaper than free, right?

Well, the truth is that Active Directory is far from free. When you factor in the required hardware, licenses, and the overhead it takes to run AD, it can be surprising how much you have to budget for Active Directory. The good news is cheaper alternatives to Active Directory do exist. But, before we discuss alternatives, let’s reveal the hidden costs in using AD. Then we’ll explore a more cost effective alternative.

Free Active Directory is Part of Microsoft’s Licensing

Many IT admins believe that AD is free because Microsoft includes Active Directory when you buy a Windows® Server license. This makes it feel like you’re getting two components for the price of one. However, you need more than just a Windows Server license to get the most out of this setup.

You also need to buy enough client access licenses (CALs) so that every employee can access resources on the Windows Server, including AD. If you plan to use Window Server for a variety of other functions, this seems like a great deal.

Of course, even better deals can be had by leveraging the built-in savings that come with Microsoft’s Enterprise Licensing Agreements (ELA). But, even with the built-in savings, you will still end up spending a pretty penny. For example, one of our customers used to spend $100K just on Windows Server licenses. The thing is, this is just part of the price in using Active Directory. Let’s take a look at a few of the hidden costs.

Hidden Costs of AD

First, it costs money to implement and run Active Directory effectively. Not only do you have to factor in the purchase of hardware, but you also have to account for future upgrades, overhead costs like space and energy, and the time it takes your IT admins to maintain all of this gear. If you have multiple locations, these expenses will only multiply.  

Next, Active Directory was created to manage users and systems in an on-prem Windows-centric network. As a result, if you are leveraging non-Windows IT resources such as Mac® and Linux® machines, web applications, cloud infrastructure and more, then you’ll need more than AD to control user access to those solutions. Often that involves using pricey add-ons like single sign-on (SSO) providers, identity bridges, privileged access management and more.

Essentially, not only do you have to pay for the licenses, infrastructure, and labor to use Active Directory, but you also have to pay an additional cost to use all of these add-on solutions if you hope to have comprehensive user management. With all of this in mind, Active Directory starts to look a lot less free now, doesn’t it?

The good news is the directory services space is undergoing a transformation, and identity and access management (IAM) no longer has to be convoluted and costly. One player responsible for this transformation in particular is JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®.

What’s Cheaper than Active Directory? JumpCloud.

JumpCloud is a cloud IAM solution that takes a multi-protocol, vendor-independent approach to directory services. As a result, you can manage user access to virtually all of the digital tools in your IT environment, from one platform, for one cost.

Further, JumpCloud delivers the cloud directory based on the “as-a-Service” model, so IT admins can eliminate busywork often associated with directory services like managing hardware, configuring software, and maintaining availability. These tasks are left to the experts at JumpCloud. So what’s the price to use JumpCloud? Well, the cost for Directory-as-a-Service is simple; you pay based on the number of users on an annual or monthly basis. And you don’t even have to start paying until you hit 11+ users.

So when you compare the costs of Directory-as-a-Service versus Active Directory it becomes easy to see what’s cheaper than Active Directory. After all, why pay for AD, SSO, identity bridges, PAM, and other add-on solutions separately when you can get all of this functionality for one cost with JumpCloud?

Next Steps

If you’re interested in learning more about what’s cheaper than Active Directory, feel free to reach out to us and ask us about our ROI calculator.  We’d be happy to go over some of the ways JumpCloud can help you save on costs. Ready to start testing our cloud AD alternative? Sign up for a free account. Your first ten users are free forever, and all of our features are available.

Continue Learning with our Newsletter