Cloud Directory Feature: Linux Device Management

Written by Vince Lujan on March 30, 2018

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As Linux® has become the operating system of choice for the data center, Linux devices have become more popular than ever before. The challenge for IT admins is to figure out how to integrate Linux systems into their IT management infrastructure. Fortunately, a powerful new Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) platform has emerged that offers management capabilities for Linux systems. In this blog, we discuss the cloud directory feature: Linux device management. First, however, we should provide some context.

Legacy Device Management

Prior to the introduction of Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD), most IT admins thought identity management solutions simply encompassed the authentication and authorization process. AD changed that thought process with the Group Policy functionality.

Microsoft’s thought process on what the directory service would encompass was actually brilliant. When Microsoft released Active Directory in 1999, Windows-based IT resources were already the dominant player in the market for systems and applications. IT networks were virtually all Windows-based, and to help lock-in their customers, they created Active Directory and GPOs for Windows.

As the name implies, Group Policy describes the ability to manage policies on groups of systems. This is achieved via Group Policy Objects (GPOs), which are effectively scripts, templates, or commands that can be executed across Windows system groups. Obviously, the ability to manage groups of systems at once is a huge advantage.

Why are we talking about GPOs? The Group Policy functionality is a highly valued and critical system management tool. It is one of the primary justifications for the continued use of the on-prem Microsoft directory service in the cloud era. The trouble has always been (and apparently may always be) that Microsoft won’t make this concept available to Linux or Mac machines in an attempt to lock customers into the Microsoft ecosystem. After all, IT admins have had to deal with this limitation for nearly twenty years now.

Linux and the Limitations of Legacy Device Management

eliminate windows server

While AD has been great for managing Windows systems, the same cannot be said for non-Windows systems. For example, if IT admins needed to manage their Mac and Linux users and systems, they would have to purchase third-party solutions that would be built on top of Active Directory. This was a huge deterrent to allowing end users to purchase and use non-Windows resources. But, over time, IT organizations did move away from Windows systems, especially in the data center where Linux machines have become quite popular.

Of course, as mentioned, therein lies the challenge for IT organizations. Specifically, how do they integrate Linux machines into their current user and system management processes? Especially given that Active Directory struggles with remote, non-Windows systems and doesn’t offer GPO-like functions for Linux? The answer is you find a better alternative to Active Directory.  

Next Generation Device Management

evolution of directory services

JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® is a modern cloud directory that features Linux device management capabilities that are an analog to GPOs. Called Policies, these cross-platform GPO-like capabilities enable IT admins to achieve a similar result as traditional GPOs, except they work on Linux machines (Windows and Macs too). This modern cloud directory platform enables IT admins to execute commands and scripts across their entire Linux fleet regardless of location. IT admins can develop deep system management capabilities across their Linux machines and receive results and feedback on whether those tasks were successful.

The best part is that IT admins can do this all from one central management console in the cloud, not to mention they no longer have to deal with the hassle of implementing and maintaining on-prem infrastructure. Instead, IT admins can relax and simply pay for what they use because the JumpCloud platform is delivered as a service. Sound too good to be true?

Contact JumpCloud, schedule a demo, or sign up for a Directory-as-a-Service account to learn more about the JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service platform. We give you ten free users to help you explore the full functionality of our solution at no cost. These ten free users are free forever, and we don’t even require a credit card to sign up. Check out the cloud directory feature: Linux device management today!

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