Is there such a thing as a cloud only Active Directory®? Well, the quick and easy answer is no, at least not from Microsoft®. But, the concept of a cloud directory is very much alive and well, and available, albeit with an interesting twist: there’s no Mac® or Linux® restrictions like there are with the on-prem AD. This modern approach to the concept of an identity provider is actually replacing the on-prem directory service for IT organizations around the world.
Azure Active Directory vs AD, Setting the Record Straight
Many have theorized that Azure® Active Directory is the cloud version of Active Directory. Unfortunately, that isn’t true, even coming from the standpoint of a Microsoft representative. It doesn’t take Microsoft telling us that Azure AD isn’t a replacement for AD to understand their strategy, however. Active Directory (MAD or AD) has been at the core of IT organizations for almost twenty years now. As a steel thread in the network, MAD has effectively been tying organizations back to Microsoft Windows®.
Now, as the IT network shifts away from Windows, Microsoft has had to shift their strategy as well. That shift has led to Azure, where Office 365™ and IaaS are the dominant solutions. With this shift to the cloud, Microsoft needed a way to maintain their ability to control user access. They knew that Active Directory struggled with non-Windows IT resources and anything off-prem.
The result was that they created Azure Active Directory, which really focused on being a complement to on-prem AD for Azure infrastructure and services, Office 365, and web applications. It wasn’t meant to be a replacement to AD or to manage user access to on-prem systems (e.g. Mac and Linux machines), third party infrastructure like AWS® or GCP™, and on-prem applications / networks. This is why Microsoft views Azure AD as a complement rather than a replacement to AD.
So, the result is that there isn’t really a cloud only Active Directory approach from Microsoft that eliminates an on-prem identity provider. But, the good news is that there is a third-party, independent cloud directory service called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® that is the cloud-based Active Directory replacement. IT organizations and enterprises around the world are evaluating Directory-as-a-Service, and in turn, cutting ties with Microsoft.
Cloud Only Active Directory Replacement
JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is reimagining Active Directory for the cloud era, boosting IT organizations with a highly scalable, cloud-secure, vendor-neutral directory solution. With Directory-as-a-Service, there’s no hardware required, and nothing on-prem. From the cloud, IT admins are free to centrally manage all of their users, connecting them to the resources they need regardless of platform (Windows, Mac, and Linux), location, protocol (LDAP, SAML, RADIUS, SAMBA, and other protocols), or provider (e.g., G Suite™, O365, AWS, Salesforce). Instead of you having to adapt to JumpCloud, we adapt to you with endpoint-centric security and industry-leading ease of use.
Ready to experience the platform and features for yourself? Go ahead and sign up. There’s no cost involved, and you can register your first 10 users for free as well. If you have any further questions about how Directory-as-a-Service does more than just a cloud only Active Directory, contact us directly. A product expert will be more than happy to set up a personalized demo in return.