Updated on January 12, 2023
Google Workspace (formerly known as G Suite) is a popular productivity platform leveraged by over 6 million organizations and hundreds of millions of end users worldwide. Most people are already very familiar with the free aspects of G Suite / Google Workspace, such as Gmail, Calendar, and Drive (to name a few). However, as more IT management tools shift to the cloud, one area of interest for IT administrators is whether device management with G Suite / Google Workspace is possible.
In short, the native device management capability of G Suite is effectively limited to Chrome OS (Google’s own Linux-based operating system), as well as light support for some Android and iOS mobile platforms as well as Windows, Mac, and Linux. For IT admins of sophisticated organizations the bar for enterprise-grade device management – the ability to authenticate Linux, Mac, and Windows devices using G Suite credentials and manage disparate systems with Microsoft Active Directory® (AD) GPO-like capabilities – is quite high.
The good news is that a new generation of hosted device management solution, with integrated user management, has arrived with the power to extend Google Workspace credentials to virtually any IT resource via a comprehensive cloud-based directory service platform and subsequently manage those devices through policies, command execution, and MDM. The solution is called JumpCloud Directory Platform, but before we explore how it enables device management with Google Workspace, let’s step back and analyze the development of G Suite and why IT organizations are interested in device management with the cloud-based productivity platform.
The Origin of G Suite
G Suite was initially released in 2006 under the name Google Apps for Your Domain as a cloud-based alternative to the Microsoft suite of on-prem IT solutions. For example, Docs, Sheets, and Slides were some of the first Google apps. They were effectively cloud alternatives to Microsoft solutions Word, Excel, and Powerpoint (respectively), which were on-prem applications at the time.
As Google continued to develop the G Suite platform, IT administrators began to discover that Google services could replace the majority of longstanding Windows®-based IT solutions on-prem, such as Office®, Exchange®, SCCM® (formerly SMS), and even aspects of Active Directory device management to some extent. G Suite has been so successful that Microsoft had to create their own cloud-based productivity platform in 2011, called Office 365® (now Microsoft 365), just to keep up. The two (Google and Microsoft) have been at war with their productivity suites, upping the ante with solutions such video conferencing (Meets), chat (Teams), and more.
There is no doubt that Google would like to establish itself as the primary backend service provider in IT organizations, especially when you factor in more recent additions to Google’s list of services like Google Cloud, Google Cloud IAM, and more. However, an issue for IT admins is the lack of enterprise-grade device management and IAM capabilities within Google Workspace.
Device management is critical in modern IT organizations and has become a daily task for IT admins. However, it’s not just about onboarding users and giving them access to their resources efficiently. System management is foundational to security. Not only are devices one of the primary means of connecting users to IT resources, they also need to be updated and secured in order to mitigate the risks of a breach or theft. After all, devices are a core part of the process to access IT resources, which may be the most important function that an IT organization provides to their end users.
Given the wide adoption of Google Workspace and the familiarity of its browser-based admin console, sophisticated device management with G Suite would be a dream come true for IT administrators worldwide. While this isn’t completely possible natively within Google Workspace, a cloud directory like JumpCloud can make cross-platform device management and user access with Google Workspace a reality.
Device Management with Google Workspace via a Cloud Directory
JumpCloud Directory Platform is a comprehensive cloud-based directory services platform with the power to securely connect user identities to virtually any IT resource. Device management is a core component of the JumpCloud platform, which can provide cross platform management capabilities for Windows, Mac, and Linux that is akin to Active Directory’s Group Policy feature for Windows. JumpCloud’s platform is designed to provide secure, frictionless access to core IT resources. That process requires that identities, devices, and the network itself be secured along with the correct authorization rights. Thus, ensuring that the device is secure, safe, and healthy is a core component of providing users with safe access to their IT resources.
The JumpCloud platform also seamlessly integrates with Google Workspace, enabling IT admins to import Google Workspace user identities into the JumpCloud administrator console. Once imported, Google Workspace user identities can then be federated to IT resources throughout the network, including systems. Systems are bound to end users and as a result can be managed through policies, MDM controls, and ad hoc commands across all three major platforms.
The end result is that IT organizations can continue to leverage Google Workspace credentials, but instead of being limited to Google services, Google Workspace identities can be leveraged to gain access to virtually any IT resource. Examples of other IT resources include cloud applications (Salesforce, Box, Github), on-prem applications, (Jenkins, Docker, OpenVPN), IaaS solutions (AWS, GCP, IBM), Samba file server and NAS appliances (Synology, QNAP, FreeNAS), networks via RADIUS (wired, WiFi), and more. And, while providing that access, IT admins can ensure that their end users’ devices – whether Mac, Windows, or Linux – are safe, secure, and healthy.
Learn More About Managing Systems with G Suite
Check out the whiteboard video above to learn more about the JumpCloud G Suite (now Google Workspace) integration.
You can also contact the JumpCloud team with any questions, or sign up for a JumpCloud Free account and see how easy device management with integrated Google Workspace identities can be. Your first ten users and ten systems are free forever to help you explore our platform risk free. You’ll also receive 10 days of 24×7 Premium in-app chat support as well.