The Cost of Microsoft® Active Directory® vs DaaS

Written by Rajat Bhargava on November 26, 2015

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Once your directory services requirements are determined, you often will turn to the issue of cost. Even if you aren’t the “money person”, somebody on your team is minding dollars and cents. Notable differences between Microsoft Active Directory and other alternatives, such as JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service, can make comparing the cost difficult. That is why JumpCloud created a cost comparison calculator to help organizations understand their economic differences. If you would like a copy of our spreadsheet that can simplify the process, drop us a note.

A Note About JumpCloud’s Pricing Model

JumpCloud’s all-inclusive pricing model is based on the number of users. Organizations can purchase the SaaS-based service on a monthly or annual basis. Consequently, as organizations grow or shrink, their bill is based strictly on usage.

No (Cost) Stone Unturned

When thinking about how Microsoft Active Directory compares in cost, key areas to account for include:

  1. Hardware and software. As an on-premises piece of software, Active Directory needs to be installed on a server. Ideally, the Active Directory infrastructure would be highly available and thus will require multiple servers. A company’s geographical locations may also entail additional servers. Software licensing costs must be factored in as well. Microsoft uses a system called CALs (client access licenses). CALs are needed for the Windows Server software that houses Active Directory software, and for each endpoint accessing the system. Microsoft does periodic audits of companies to see if organizations are adhering to licensing requirements.
  2. Add-on software to manage Mac and Linux devices. Since Active Directory is focused exclusively on Windows devices, you’ll need third-party software to help manage your fleet of Macs and Linux devices. This is often licensed per device or per user.
  3. Hosting and networking costs. If you are truly accounting for all of your costs and doing an apples-to-apples comparison, you’ll want to allocate the costs of your data center space, networking equipment and network management/monitoring software.
  4. Maintenance and management costs. Installing, configuring, and maintaining your AD server will take time and effort, and a sizable chunk of your costs will be people resources. Since your whole business can grind to a halt if the system goes down, you’ll want to ensure that the system is highly available. With the additional necessary patches and upgrades, this translates to a considerable investment in human resources.
  5. End-user changes. Without a portal to handle password resets and other end-user problems, you’ll be on the front-line ensuring everybody can access their devices and applications. This means even more people costs.

Request a Cost Calculator

Once you have accounted for all of these various costs, you’ll have a sense for how the two compare. Historically, SaaS-based solutions end up being more cost-effective than on-premises software solutions, but that isn’t always the case. JumpCloud’s cost comparison calculator enables you to input various pieces of data and automatically calculate a comparison between Active Directory and Directory-as-a-Service. To request this cost calculator, drop us a note. Or, if you want to sign up for a free account, you can do so here

Rajat Bhargava

Rajat Bhargava is co-founder and CEO of JumpCloud, the first Directory-as-a-Service (DaaS). JumpCloud securely connects and manages employees, their devices and IT applications. An MIT graduate with two decades of experience in industries including cloud, security, networking and IT, Rajat is an eight-time entrepreneur with five exits including two IPOs, three trade sales and three companies still private.

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