Device Management with G Suite

By Vince Lujan Posted January 4, 2018

G Suite is a popular productivity platform leveraged by IT organizations and end users worldwide. Most people are already very familiar with the free aspects of G Suite, 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 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), although technically Google does offer light support for some Android and iOS mobile platforms. That’s nice, but IT admins are really interested in 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.

The good news is that a new generation of hosted device management solution has arrived with the power to extend G Suite credentials to virtually any IT resource via a comprehensive cloud-based directory service platform. The solution is called Directory-as-a-Service®, but before we explore how it enables device management with G Suite, 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

Google Cloud Identity Management

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 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®, just to keep up.

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 Platform (GCP), Google Cloud IAM, and more. However, the Achilles heel for this tech titan is the lack of enterprise-grade device management capabilities.

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.

Given the wide adoption of G Suite 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 possible natively within G Suite, Directory-as-a-Service can make cross-platform device management with G Suite a reality.

Device Management with G Suite via Directory-as-a-Service

G Suite JumpCloud Integration

Directory-as-a-Service is a comprehensive cloud-based directory services platform with the power to 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.

The JumpCloud platform also seamlessly integrates with G Suite, enabling IT admins to import G Suite user identities into the JumpCloud administrator console. Once imported, G Suite user identities can then be federated to IT resources throughout the network, including systems.

The end result is that IT organizations can continue to leverage G Suite credentials, but instead of being limited to Google services, G Suite 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.

Learn More About Managing Systems with G Suite

Check out the whiteboard video above to learn more about the JumpCloud G Suite integration.

You can also contact the JumpCloud team with any questions, or sign up for a Directory-as-a-Service account and see how easy device management with G Suite can be. Your first ten users are free forever to help you explore our platform risk free.

Vince Lujan

Vince is a writer and videographer at JumpCloud. Originally from a small village just outside of Albuquerque, he now calls Boulder home. When Vince is not developing content for JumpCloud, he can usually be found doing creek stuff.

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