By Greg Keller Posted August 23, 2016
Users on Linux systems have traditionally been managed through manual efforts, scripts, or OpenLDAP. In other words, Linux has been on the outside looking in when it comes to IT management tools.
There are two major reasons. First of all, Microsoft Windows has historically been the dominant platform, resulting in less focus on the Linux platform. Secondly, most of the sysadmins that run Linux systems are proficient enough to manually manage them or use scripts.
As Linux becomes more mainstream and more organizations use the platform, better user management tools are important. This is why the JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® platform features Linux user management capabilities, along with device management functions for organizations that are leveraging the Linux platform in the cloud or on-prem.
Linux Emerges, Gains Traction, and Takes Off
A couple of decades ago, most organizations were homogeneous Windows shops. Their end users, server platforms, and applications were based on Windows. At that time, even the Unix systems were relatively small market share solutions. They did spawn some significant companies, though. While the open source Linux platform emerged in the early 1990s and gained traction later that decade, it really took off in the 2000s. Linux became a natural choice as IT organizations were cutting costs yet still wanted a durable operating system platform. Of course, its open source nature made it more difficult to work with. Then again, that was a benefit for many developers and system administrators. A number of open source projects flourished, and the concept became more mainstream and accepted in the early part of the 2000s.
Challenges Ground Linux User Management
Fast-forward to the present, where Linux is a dominant platform in the data center. It still has not taken off with end users, but Linux is the platform of choice for cloud and on-prem servers. Of course, there are many variants in the Linux community, including Red Hat, CoreOS, CentOS, Fedora, Ubuntu, and Amazon Linux, just to name a few.
For sysadmins and developers, there exists a challenge with this infrastructure: how to manage user access to those servers. With cloud servers being more prevalent, there is no local directory server to control access. When organizations choose multiple providers, IT must put directory servers in their home office. In addition to being a difficult proposition, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Directory-as-a-Service and Linux Take Flight
JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service Linux user management feature is a cloud-based directory services platform that manages user access to Linux servers regardless of location or type. A small agent is deployed on each Linux server. Users are then created on the JumpCloud web console. Subsequently, users are created locally on each system.
User accounts and systems can be grouped to make managing access easier. Linux systems can leverage password-based login, SSH key, and multi-factor authentication. JumpCloud’s cloud directory can also manage other platforms, such as Windows and Mac, so that all systems are centrally controlled.
Beyond systems, JumpCloud’s virtual identity provider also integrates with Google Apps, Office 365, AWS, and other SaaS applications. The goal of the Identity-as-a-Service platform is to connect user identities with the IT resources that they need.
If you would like to learn more about how Directory-as-a-Service can support your Linux user management needs, drop us a note. Please feel free to give our cloud identity management platform a try for yourself. Your first 10 users are free forever.