Benefits of Directory Services

Written by Natalie Bluhm on February 4, 2019

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Do the benefits of directory services still exist in today’s modern IT environment? It’s a fair question considering the shift to the cloud has many IT admins sorting through all of the different types of solutions that are being developed. Directory services have been a core IT management tool for the last two decades, and the good news this core piece of infrastructure is undergoing a major transformation. So there are still plenty of benefits to using a directory service. However, before we get to the benefits, it’s important to take a look at why this core IT management tool needed to be revamped.

Out with the Old

Modern identity and access management (IAM) from the cloud

The modern era of identity management as we know it really kicked off with the introduction of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) in 1993, which is perhaps the most widely used authentication protocol. Our advisor, Tim Howes, and his colleagues created it to serve as a more lightweight alternative to the directory services protocol in use at the time, the X.500. LDAP actually ended up working so well that it eventually spawned two major directory services solutions: OpenLDAP™ and Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD).

Of course, most IT networks at the time were Microsoft Windows®-based, so Active Directory became the preferred directory service. The way it worked was that it connected users to their on-prem Windows-based IT resources including their system, servers, files, and applications. End users would simply login to their Windows laptop or desktop and basically have access to everything that they had rights to. Not only did users have an easy experience accessing their IT resources, but IT admins also had deep control over who had access to what. The IT landscape, however, didn’t remain this way for long as cloud infrastructure, web-based applications, wireless networks, and a resurgence in Mac® and Linux® systems began to populate the horizon. All of these new resources didn’t fit within the on-prem, Windows-centric model, and consequently, have made a significant dent in AD’s effectiveness.

In with the New

New era of directory services from the cloud

This is where the doubt about the benefits of an identity provider for today’s modern IT environment come in. You see, Active Directory wasn’t adapted to manage non-Windows systems or cloud IT resources, so as a result, the benefits of directory services disappeared for a while. Users lost their seamless access, and IT admins lost a lot of control over much of their environment. Despite this misfortune, the good news is the next generation of identity management has emerged, and it’s bringing a whole slew of new benefits along with the old ones. It’s called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®.

Benefits of Directory Services with JumpCloud

Benefits of directory services with JumpCloud

JumpCloud takes a nimble approach to identity management that makes it possible to integrate virtually any IT resource regardless of protocol, platform, provider, and location. This includes systems (Mac, Linux, and Windows), local and cloud servers, LDAP and SAML based applications, wired and wireless networks, and physical and virtual files servers. So just like old times, end users enjoy frictionless access to everything they need to do their job, and IT admins gain back their control. Additionally, our cloud IAM solution can help you save on costs, and increase productivity, agility, and security. The benefits of directory services are very much alive and well once again.

Learn more about the benefits of directory services with JumpCloud by reading this analysis on the business case for JumpCloud. You’re also more than welcome to drop us a note with any questions you may have, and we’ll gladly work with you to see how cloud directory services can help you. Ready to take matters into your own hands? Sign up for a free account. The entire IAM solution is available, 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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