Is There a Cloud Domain Controller Alternative to AD?

Written by Zach DeMeyer on January 18, 2019

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Is there a cloud domain controller alternative to Active Directory® available on the market today? It’s a question troubling many of today’s IT organizations, and a tough one to answer at that. Unfortunately, there isn’t a short answer to this question.

Domain Controllers at Large

The concept of the domain controller was really a Microsoft® Active Directory (AD) construct that made it easier for Windows®-based IT resources to be authenticated. As long as you followed the AD / Kerberos model, a user could login to their Windows system and immediately have access to other on-prem Windows-based resources.

Of course, as the IT landscape changed and included non-Windows resources, this model started to break down and, with it, the concept of the domain started to morph. Through add-on solutions, the domain could now include web applications, cloud servers, Mac® and Linux® machines, and more. In order to get all of this to work seamlessly, however, requires a number of AD add-on solutions such as identity bridges, web app SSO platforms, MFA solutions, and more.


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Cloud Domain Solutions

Microsoft would have you believe that Azure® Active Directory® Domain Services is your answer to a cloud domain controller. Of course, that’s true if you are leveraging Azure and your organization revolves around Windows. But, if you are looking for a cloud domain controller for your on-prem IT resources, AWS cloud servers, G Suite, and much more, well, then Azure AD Domain Services probably isn’t going to be the right choice. In fact, Microsoft themselves don’t see Azure AD as an Active Directory domain replacement.

The good news is that there is an alternative to Active Directory which can effectively be a replacement to a cloud domain controller, but does function as your centralized identity provider. Let’s unpack that statement since there is a lot going on there.

The Right Cloud Domain Controller

The right cloud-based “domain controller” would reimagine Active Directory completely, granting user identities access to all of their IT resources, instantly. Unlike AD, however, this solution should be tailored to fit the needs of the modern era. That means that it needs to connect to all systems (Windows, Mac, Linux), all applications (web and on-prem via LDAP and SAML), networks, file servers, and more. For IT admins out there looking for the right cloud domain replacement, there is a solution.

Called JumpCloud Directory Platform, this cloud identity and access management solution is platform-neutral, focused on connecting users to whatever IT resources they needed regardless of platform, protocol, provider, and location. This cloud directory is delivered as a SaaS-based solution so the on-prem Active Directory and add-on solution stack isn’t necessary. Furthermore, since it is cloud-based, this approach to directory services can be accessed anywhere through a convenient web browser.

Learn More

To learn more about the cloud domain controller Active Directory replacement available from JumpCloud, consider checking out another blog on the topic, or watching a video on our YouTube channel. Of course, you can always dive directly into the product absolutely free, just by signing up. With ten users and ten devices included for free to start, you’ll be set to see all that JumpCloud has to offer.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a Product Marketing Specialist at JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, music, and soccer.

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