By Greg Keller Posted December 30, 2015
With over six million organizations leveraging Google Apps and over sixty million users, Google’s productivity suite is a runaway success. Created at a time when the cloud was just emerging, Google Apps has completely changed the competitive market of productivity suites. A decade ago, Microsoft Office was essentially the only game in town, but that has changed. Today, Google Apps is going head-to-head with Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud suite. And, it is shaping up to be a great battle between the two computing giants.
The Limitations of Google Apps Directory
Because so many organizations are leveraging Google Apps, their natural implementation path leads them to the following question: what should we do for a directory service solution? Directory services is the authentication, authorization, and management of user and device connections to IT resources. It is, perhaps, the innermost part of a network’s core since it establishes who is connected to what IT resources. Not only is it a security issue, it is a fundamental productivity issue. When leveraging Google Apps, IT admins will often ask, can Google Apps Directory be used or is JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service a better fit? We’re going to address that important question in today’s post.
Keeping in mind the definition of directory services above, let’s break down how each of the platforms can be used:
- Core identity provider – Any organization needs to have a core, authoritative source of identity. That user database needs to be flexible enough to connect users to whatever IT resources they need. Google’s directory was not created to be that central, authoritative source. In fact, they implemented what’s called Google Apps Directory Sync as a mechanism to import and sync identities from a core user store. They have built APIs to enable these capabilities as well. JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service was designed to be the central directory database within an organization. It seamlessly integrates with Google Apps through its APIs, and it also provides IT admins with a number of different ways to connect users to IT resources.
- Device authentication – A core part of any directory service is authenticating users on devices. While Google Apps Directory is not designed nor capable of doing this, JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service connects users to Windows, Mac, and Linux devices. Those devices can be located on-premises, in the cloud, or with remote employees.
- Device management – Through Group Policy Objects (GPOs), Microsoft’s Active Directory standardized the addition of device management to a directory service. JumpCloud’s DaaS extends the concept of GPOs – which only work on Windows machines – thus enabling the execution of policies and commands across all three major platforms:Windows, Mac, and Linux.
- Application access control – Connecting users to applications is a central part of a directory service. Google’s directory does have the capability to connect select web-based applications back to its directory by leveraging two protocols: OAuth and SAML. JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service extends the concept of application access beyond SAML to include legacy and on-premises applications that leverage LDAP.
- WiFi management – Another core service of a directory is to backend a WiFi infrastructure. Controlling access to the network via an SSID and passphrase poses a security risk, – leaving IT admins searching for an additional layer of security. The way they generate that is by connecting the WiFi infrastructure back to the core directory service through the RADIUS protocol. This ensures that everybody accessing the network has unique access which eliminates user overhead. It’s a seamless way to enhance security.
Going the Distance with DaaS Assistance
JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service is the logical choice as your cloud-based directory service, and it is enhanced by its ability to integrate with Google Apps. Through one central console, IT admins can provision, modify, or de-provision users across their infrastructure, including within Google Apps.
If you would like to learn more about how Google Apps Directory and JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service compare, drop us a note. We’d be happy to discuss it with you. Also, feel free to connect JumpCloud to Google Apps by playing around in a free account. Your first 10 users are free forever.