Comparing JumpCloud vs Active Directory® and Centrify®

Written by Natalie Bluhm on February 20, 2019

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With all of the latest breakthroughs in technology, it’s important to regularly evaluate if there’s a better way you could be doing something. For IT organizations in particular, this could look like reassessing processes like onboarding or reconsidering tools in use for identity management. For example, many IT admins are already questioning whether or not leveraging Microsoft® Active Directory® and Centrify® is really the best identity management approach considering the increased emphasis on shifting to the cloud and the pervasiveness of heterogeneous environments. There’s a new, modern directory service on the market called JumpCloud® that they’re thinking about using instead. As a result, many are comparing JumpCloud vs Active Directory and Centrify. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s provide some more context as to why this traditional approach may not be the most effective nowadays.

The IT Landscape AD Was Built to Rule

When Active Directory (AD) was released in 1999, most IT environments were based on-prem and were predominantly using Windows® systems and applications. Active Directory was built with the intention of managing users and systems in this exact type of environment, and AD served its purpose pretty well. So, most organizations readily adopted a Microsoft-centric IT environment and utilized Active Directory to manage it.

Then, in the early 2000’s, the use of macOS® and Linux® systems took off. Microsoft didn’t adapt  AD to support these new systems, so a new generation of tools was created to help, like Centrify. Often these solutions also went by the name of identity bridges. They would leverage Active Directory as the source of truth and then extend AD identities to Mac® and Linux systems. Essentially, these identity bridges were enterprise class solutions that deepened an organization’s identity management infrastructure on-prem.

Why It’s Time to Reconsider Using Active Directory and Centrify

management in the cloud

If Mac and Linux systems were the only change to the IT landscape over the last two decades, using Active Directory and Centrify would have remained an adequate approach to identity management. However, a resurgence in Mac and Linux systems was just the beginning of changes to hit the IT landscape: cloud infrastructure matured; web-based applications saturated the workplace; wireless networks surfaced; and new options for file storage appeared. Microsoft didn’t modify Active Directory to integrate with these new IT resources either. While Centrify broadened their offering to include web application single sign-on (SSO), it’s been a hassle for IT admins to figure out how to manage user access to wireless networks, file storage solutions like NAS appliances, and cloud infrastructure. For a while, the main option has been adding even more solutions on top of Active Directory to extend AD identities to these non-Windows IT resources, chaining IT organizations even more to their on-prem directory service. The thing is, sysadmins want to move their identity provider to the cloud, and ideally, have it support their entire heterogeneous IT environment.

Hence, IT admins have been searching for alternatives to the Active Directory and Centrify combination. One such alternative that IT admins have been looking at is JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service® . As a neutral cloud directory service, Directory-as-a-Service is managing and connecting users to their IT resources regardless of platform, protocol, provider, and location including the following: Windows, macOS, and Linux systems; on-prem and cloud servers; LDAP and SAML based applications; physical and virtual file storage; and wired and wireless networks. By enabling IT professionals to go all cloud and to centralize their environment, a number of benefits occur.

The Benefits of JumpCloud

Reduced Costs

First, costs are reduced a great deal. IT organizations no longer have to pay for the hardware and labor costs associated with configuring, managing and maintaining an on-prem Active Directory instance. Additionally, IT admins can eliminate the cost of paying for Centrify because they no longer need it since JumpCloud integrates with virtually all IT resources.

Increased Productivity

The next JumpCloud benefit is that it increases productivity for everyone in an organization. IT professionals can centrally manage user access to everything from one pane of glass. This means user management tasks end up taking minutes out of their week instead of hours, giving them more time to tackle higher value projects. Simultaneously, end users gain more time to Make Work Happen™ because they’re empowered with one set of credentials to access virtually all of their IT resources.

Strengthened Security

Lastly, our cloud-based directory service helps sysadmins strengthen security. From securing identities with MFA to protecting systems with policies like full disk encryption, to safeguarding wireless networks with unique individual access, IT admins can develop a security playbook for their entire IT environment that’s easy to maintain.

And That’s Just the Start

The improvements in costs, productivity, and security is just the start of the value JumpCloud can offer in your IT environment. For more, consider reading “The Business Case for JumpCloud.”

Other Steps You Can Take to Discover More About JumpCloud

This was just a taste of comparing JumpCloud vs Active Directory and Centrify. If you would like to have a more in depth conversation on the matter, drop us a note, and we’ll promptly get back to you. Ready to see if our cloud-based directory service is more than just talk and actually walks the walk? Sign up for a free account. It comes with unlimited access to the platform, and your first ten users are free forever.

Natalie Bluhm

Natalie is a writer for JumpCloud, an Identity and Access Management solution designed for the cloud era. Natalie graduated with a degree in professional and technical writing, and she loves learning about cloud infrastructure, identity security, and IT protocols.

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