By Jon Griffin Posted June 28, 2017
The cloud IAM (identity and access management) market is in a state of flux. This is great for IT admins and organizations, and is a significant opportunity for forward thinking vendors in the identity management world. Through a confluence of events, the fundamentals of the IAM market are changing. A key part of that change is the recent integration of a wide range of IAM functionality into one cloud IAM platform. An example of the shift can be seen in the cloud IAM feature hosted LDAP.
Modern Identity Management Market
The modern identity management market kicked off in the early 1990s with the introduction of the LDAP protocol. This enabled a lightweight and easy way for users and IT resources to be connected together. Our advisor, Tim Howes, and his colleagues at the University of Michigan were behind the development of the protocol. Two major solutions emerged from that beginning, in the form of OpenLDAP™ and Microsoft Active Directory®. OpenLDAP would go on to be the open source leader for LDAP directory services, and AD, of course, would become the monopoly in the space.
OpenLDAP is aimed at more technical, Unix/Linux based infrastructure. It’s not worth the effort to connect Windows devices/applications and Macs to OpenLDAP (even if you can). But, on the DevOps side of the house, OpenLDAP has been a viable solution to managing data center infrastructure and more technical applications – usually built on top of Linux.
The challenge with OpenLDAP has always been the flip side of its strength. OpenLDAP is incredibly flexible, and because it is open it can be modified by engineers or admins. For IT admins and DevOps engineers just looking to deploy and use the platform, this can be frustrating. OpenLDAP is complex to install, configure, and maintain. It is also often complex to connect various applications to authenticate via LDAP. Often, the expertise required to run OpenLDAP is too expensive and time consuming for an organization.
As the market started to shift to the cloud and management tools started to be delivered as SaaS-based platforms, an interesting service appeared. A cloud IAM platform called Directory-as-a-Service® began to offer a hosted LDAP platform. This approach to LDAP was similar to SaaS-based approaches in other areas, except that nobody had done that with the foundation of identity management, directory services.
The hosted LDAP platform shifts the burden of operating LDAP to a third-party provider, enabling IT admins to simply connect their IT applications with the cloud LDAP server. No maintenance, installation, or configuration required. Even the process of connecting applications was simplified due to extensive experience with the process and a library of applications already documented.
An added bonus is that the core user management platform, Directory-as-a-Service, can be used instead of Active Directory. The cloud IAM solution authenticates Windows, Mac, and Linux systems, cloud and on-prem servers (e.g. AWS, Google Cloud, private data centers), on-prem and web applications via LDAP or SAML, wired and WiFi networks via RADIUS, and much more. Effectively, this cloud identity management solution is the modern replacement for Active Directory and OpenLDAP.
Hosted LDAP for Your Organization
If you would like to learn more about how the cloud IAM feature for hosted LDAP can benefit your organization, contact us here. Alternatively, spin-up a free cloud IAM account for yourself and check out our cloud LDAP functionality. Your first 10 users are free forever.