Cloud Group Policy Object (GPO) Alternative

Written by Jon Griffin on March 13, 2018

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For a long time, IT admins have enjoyed using the Microsoft® Active Directory® feature called GPOs (Group Policy Objects). This tool has been incredibly valuable to managing fleets of Windows systems. For many admins, it is one of the main reasons why they continue to use Active Directory. This raises the question, though, is there is a cloud Group Policy Object (GPO) alternative?

The Underlying Need for a Cloud GPO Alternative

Really, the question goes further than whether or not there is a GPO alternative in the cloud. The question actually revolves around the possibility of IT admins extending the GPO concept to include non-Windows platforms like macOS and Linux®. Unfortunately, there is no way for Active Directory to natively extend GPOs to Mac® and Linux. It just wasn’t built for that purpose, and Microsoft has no intention of enabling their competitors’ platforms either. There are third party solutions that can extend GPOs to non-Windows devices, but these are enterprise scale on-prem systems that integrate tightly with AD. These aren’t a cloud alternative, and they add unnecessary complexity to your infrastructure as well.

Many IT admins have theorized that Azure® Active Directory’s capabilities could include a cloud GPO alternative. However, here too, there are issues. While the concept of GPOs does exist for Windows systems located in Azure, once again there is a disconnect on how to make them work on Mac and Linux platforms. Similar to the on-prem discussion above, Microsoft would suggest leveraging another piece of software called Intune to help manage your system. Unfortunately, though, Intune’s capabilities to manage Mac and Linux systems is limited, and it leaves admins to deal with workarounds and complexity that they just don’t have time for.

Finding a Cloud Group Policy Object Alternative

So, all of this brings IT organizations back to the original question: “Is there really a cloud Group Policy Object alternative that can handle cross platform environments?” The good news is that not only is there a cloud GPO alternative that works with heterogeneous environments, but the solution is also a comprehensive identity provider that can act as a complete replacement for Active Directory. Admins can manage their Windows users and systems, and control their Mac and Linux users and systems as well. It’s all possible through JumpCloud’s Policies and Commands feature. The Policies feature enables admins to run policy templates against their Mac, Windows, and Linux platforms, and the Commands feature enables admins to implement custom commands and scripts against any of the systems in their environment. The workflow provides admins with GPO-like capabilities from the cloud that work for all major platforms in your environment.

This innovative new solution goes by the name of JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®, and the benefits of the cloud-based directory don’t end there. Going beyond system management capabilities, this cloud identity management platform can also help securely manage and connect users to their applications, files, and cloud RADIUS server.

Why is this so important? Well not only does it enable admins to do more, but it saves the company money as well. IT organizations won’t need to purchase the add-on identity management and system management solutions, web application single sign-on platforms, identity bridges, endpoint management solutions, and all of the other crutches needed by Active Directory to function in a modern office. JumpCloud provides it all natively, for one flat cost.

Check Out JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service Yourself

Cloud Directory Service DaaS

JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is the cloud Group Policy Object alternative with deep identity management capabilities that admins have been searching for. If you are interested in taking it for a test run, all you have to do is sign up for a free account. With a 10 users free forever offer, it has never been easier to get a taste of a directory that is built for modern IT. You can also sign up for a live demo of the product, or reach out to us with any questions that you might have.

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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