Do I Need AD?

Written by Natalie Bluhm on February 10, 2019

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Over the years, the IT landscape has significantly changed. It doesn’t look anything like it did back in 1999 when the leading directory service, Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD), was released. It’s not surprising then, that IT admins are asking themselves, “Do I need AD in this day and age?” Well, you definitely still need a directory service, but it might not necessarily have to be AD. Before we can explain this further though, we need to provide some more context.  

The Backstory on AD and the Changing IT Landscape

Cloud-based AD alternatve

When Active Directory was released in 1999, most workplaces were using other Microsoft IT resources like Windows®, Office®, Outlook®, and a few others. Essentially, AD was an answer to the growing need for centralized user management between these resources, and it worked pretty well. The trick was, if organizations wanted the level of identity management AD provided, they had to stick with a homogeneous Microsoft IT environment. So, Windows-based resources and Active Directory alike abounded in the working world.

Then, in the early 2000’s, web-based applications, cloud computing, wireless networks, file storage alternatives, and a new interest in Mac® and Linux® systems emerged. Microsoft didn’t want to let go of their reign on the enterprise, so they did not adapt AD to work with these new digital tools. The thing is, many of these new options came with increases in efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and agility, so not using them wasn’t really an option for many organizations. As a result, IT admins have been forced into a situation where they have to accept insecure practices like manual management or forgo any control at all. There’s also the option to shell out extra money for solutions such as single sign-on platforms, identity bridges, and a handful of others to extend AD identities to resources like SAML-based applications or Mac systems. The problem is not only are they an added cost but they create more work for IT admins too. So, “Do I need AD?” is really a fair question since this legacy directory service comes with its fair share of baggage for many modern organizations.

So Who Needs Active Directory?

True Single Sign-On for cloud based resources

If your IT environment is cloud-forward and leverages a mix of platforms, providers, and protocols, Active Directory is probably not your best bet for a directory service. Instead, what you need is an identity management solution that’s built with the modern era in mind, and yes, something like this exists.

But, what if your organization hasn’t readily embraced the changes in the IT landscape and is an all-Windows shop with very little in the cloud? Do you need Active Directory then? More than likely, you probably already are using Active Directory, and in this case, it makes sense because this is the type of environment it works best in. Even then, when it’s time to upgrade your Windows Server or when you become interested in spending less time and money on managing your on-prem Active Directory instance, you should know that there is a next generation directory service that you should consider looking into. It’s called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®, and it can help all types of environments optimize user and system management.

JumpCloud — A Modern AD Alternative

Learn More About JumpCloud

JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is a modern alternative to Active Directory that is completely cloud-based. This cloud identity management solution takes a multi-protocol, vendor-independent approach that enables IT admins to integrate virtually all of their IT resources into one solution. This includes systems (Mac, Linux, and Windows), legacy and web-based applications, physical and virtual file storage, wired and wireless networks, and more. Further, JumpCloud offers a robust set of features that can help you control and secure your environment. From identity security to policy management to VLAN attributes for RADIUS, sysadmins gain peace of mind knowing their environment is secure to their specifications and requirements.

Still wondering, “Do I need AD?” Register for our introductory webinar to learn more about how JumpCloud can help you solve your identity management needs. Prefer to try out the platform yourself? Sign up for a free account. It comes with ten users free forever and unlimited access to all of JumpCloud’s features. Of course if you’re ready to have a conversation, don’t hesitate to drop us a note, and one of our technical experts will get back to you shortly.

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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