Microsoft Active Directory (AD) and Exchange, their email server, have been staples within organizations since the turn of the century. Since their emergence in the late 90’s, these two services have seen a decade of market domination. In fact, Microsoft’s Active Directory solution is arguably their highest market share solution at the company. Their CEO once claimed that Active Directory may be the most important asset within the company. Nowadays, the dominance of AD and Exchange is being threatened by newcomers on the scene, Directory-as-a-Service and Google Apps.
The Cloud: Modern Solutions for IT & Business
As the Internet became an important part of an organization’s IT infrastructure, IT admins started to leverage new types of infrastructure and services. These solutions were called, in one overarching moniker, “the cloud,” but they included a wide variety of solutions: Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Software-as-a-Service applications, cloud storage, and others. The benefits of the cloud were significant for IT and included the reduction of data centers, less hardware and software purchases, and better maintenance and management activities. In a sense, IT started outsourcing what they needed to a variety of third parties – all of whom, theoretically, were experts in their particular area.
Google Apps: The Microsoft Exchange Replacement
In the mid 2000s, Google introduced their corporate solution to Gmail. Organizations could now outsource their email services to Google by simply pointing their MX records to Google. As a result, email would be processed and delivered by Google via their Web-based interface to the common Microsoft Outlook client. This service turned into a game changer for Google. It was the start of what became known as Google Apps, and now is the foundation for the Google for Work division. Over the years, Google has added a productivity suite that includes cloud-based docs, spreadsheets, presentations, video conferencing (Hangouts), and others. Over six million organizations have chosen Google Apps for their business. In most of these instances, the organization has replaced Microsoft Exchange or opted not to purchase it at all.
For many Google Apps customers, the replacement of Exchange has enabled them to eliminate servers and the overhead of managing email. As many IT admins know, email is the lifeblood of a company, and outages are painful. Pushing that responsibility to an operationally excellent organization, which Google is, is a smart move.
Directory-as-a-Service: The Microsoft Active Directory Replacement
While Google Apps has replaced Microsoft Exchange, Active Directory is still a the well-known choice for companies who need a directory service. Which means, there is still a server in a data center or closet somewhere that IT needs to manage. Worse, the insurgence of multiple devices, including Mac and Linux machines, has rendered AD ineffective for controlling access to those devices. What’s more, loud infrastructure and applications further reduced the benefit and value of Active Directory, since AD struggles to connect and manage those solutions.
An innovative solution has emerged to solve this issue:Directory-as-a-Service (DaaS).
Directory-as-a-Service functions as a cloud-based directory service, connecting users to the IT resources that they need — devices, applications, and networks — whether those solutions are hosted on-premises or in the cloud.
Complementing Google Apps, DaaS can replace the need for Active Directory. Not only that, it can provide greater flexibility and features for all three machine types: Windows, Mac, and Linux. With JumpCloud, an organization can now completely move to the cloud and eliminate both Microsoft Active Directory and Exchange. The future of IT management and directory services is here.
Ready to learn more about how Directory-as-a-Service and Google Apps can replace the need for Active Directory and Exchange? Drop us a note. We’d be happy to discuss it with you further. Try JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service for free today.