Cloud AD DS

By Vince Lujan Posted May 13, 2019

IT organizations have been leveraging Microsoft® Active Directory® Domain Services (AD DS) for many years. However, as the IT landscape shifts to the cloud, admins are wondering about a possible cloud alternative to AD DS.

Of course, it would be convenient to be able to offload the implementation and maintenance of an on-prem AD DS setup to the cloud. No longer would IT admins need to acquire the necessary hardware and licensing or deal with the ongoing maintenance.

Yet, some IT organizations need more than just a traditional AD DS setup hosted in the cloud. For these organizations, a next generation cloud directory is usually the better option. To understand why this is the case, let’s take a closer look at AD DS in a traditional sense.

How AD DS Became the Only Show in Town

Active Directory Domain Services is the umbrella term for the Active Directory® (AD) platform and Windows® domain. Active Directory and the Windows® domain have been the foundation for most IT organizations since the turn of the century.

Microsoft leveraged the concept of the Windows domain to showcase the value of AD DS. That is, a user could log in to their Windows system and instantly access virtually any on-prem, Windows resource to which they were granted access via AD DS.

Given that AD DS was introduced at a time when most networks were already on-prem and Windows-based, AD DS has been widely implemented. However, as the IT landscape changed with the addition of non-Windows and cloud-based resources, so too did the requirements for the AD domain controller.

Non-Windows Resources Take Center Stage

With macOS® and Linux® systems, cloud infrastructure such as AWS®, web applications, and remote networks, the concept of the domain started to morph. On-prem identity and access management (IAM) systems such as AD DS struggled to connect to cloud resources. The result was that IT organizations and MSPs started to consider what a cloud domain controller might look like.

Naturally, Microsoft’s Azure® AD DS can be a consideration for a cloud AD DS. However, IT admins quickly realized that Azure AD DS really just created a separate domain for systems located in Azure and for Windows 10 machines, but the concept of an on-prem domain was missing for legacy systems and applications.

MSPs and IT admins then realized that the concept of cloud AD DS needed to be much broader than how people have historically thought of the domain controller. A modern approach to the domain controller would leverage the concept of True Single Sign-On to securely manage and connect users to all of their IT resources including systems, applications, files, and networks.

Enter Cloud AD DS Alternative

Serverless Authentication for All, (graphic a play on famous evolution image)

Fortunately, JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® fits the bill. Directory-as-a-Service is a reimagination of AD DS for the cloud era. With JumpCloud, admins can connect their users to virtually any IT resource without the need for any infrastructure on-prem. The Directory-as-a-Service platform also eliminates the need for a traditional Windows domain, making it a perfect fit for your Zero Trust Security initiative and DevOps use cases.

Sign up for a free account to find additional benefits of a cloud AD DS alternative. You can also contact JumpCloud and schedule a demo to see our platform in action. We also have supplemental information available at our Knowledge Base and YouTube page.

Vince Lujan

Vince is a writer and videographer at JumpCloud. Originally from a small village just outside of Albuquerque, he now calls Boulder home. When Vince is not developing content for JumpCloud, he can usually be found doing creek stuff.

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