Eliminating the Domain

Written by Brandon White on September 10, 2020

Share This Article

We live and work in a wholly different world than we did pre-pandemic. And if there is one clear lesson learned, it’s the power of adapting—well and quickly—to change. To survive—and even thrive—in this new world takes meeting change head-on and adapting to it.

For most organizations, the quick pivot to work from home (WFH) brought with it distinct challenges related to managing their IT infrastructures. IT administrators are adapting and learning which legacy systems and processes perform well when employees work remotely, and which ones fall short.

Something that isn’t working is the domain, the legacy way of defining where we work in AD, and as a result, many admins are eliminating it altogether. 

Windows into a Former World

The on-premises Microsoft® Windows®-based domain has been a mainstay in IT organizations for over 20 years. Network users have had single sign-on (SSO) access to all their on-prem Windows-based® resources, and admins could centrally manage users and their access through Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD).

AD, though, is predicated on the physical office and non-distributed teams. It’s meant to work in what were the most common conditions—Windows-centric desktops on physical networks in common offices. 

Typically, end users logged in to their networks from the office. The domain controller then ensured they could access their Windows IT resources on-premises. If users were remote, they were required to connect to the virtual private network (VPN) to create a direct connection to AD. Once authenticated, they were granted access to all needed IT resources.

This approach worked. In fact, until relatively recently, it worked very well.

Over time, though, organizations and employees began to gradually shift from Windows applications to web-based, mobile applications on cloud infrastructure. Consequently, admins have had to manage increasing numbers of resources, including:

  • macOS® and Linux systems®
  • Web applications like Slack® and G Suite™
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service platforms like AWS®
  • WiFi and VPN networks
  • NAS and Samba-based storage systems

The concept of the domain started to break down. With most organizations managing resources that live outside the Windows domain, user provisioning, management, and security all grew more complicated. The days when remote users only needed to use a VPN to gain access to AD and all the IT resources they needed were over.

And then came the pandemic. Seemingly overnight and en masse, the global workforce shifted to working remotely. As a result, the problems with the physical office mimicking the virtual network infrastructure increased.

Regaining Oversight and Control

The sudden shift to WFH focused a bright spotlight on the problems and limitations of the legacy approach to networks. Today, all end users either have to use the VPN to gain access to IT resources or organizations lose oversight and control. And the latter isn’t a pretty picture for organizations, admins or security.

The hard truth is this: AD and other similar on-prem identity management tools are falling short of meeting the requirements of the new remote world. 

The resulting new approach is the elimination of the domain and subsequent replacement of the AD legacy directory service. Once a bedrock of virtually all networks, the domain controller is now clearly at odds with end user productivity and admin control. IT teams now commonly regard AD legacy infrastructure as incapable of securely managing user access for remote work.

A Cloud-based Directory Service That Can Handle Remote Work

JumpCloud® offers a cloud directory platform as a smart solution to identity management in the post-pandemic, WFH environment. Hosted entirely in the cloud, it’s lightweight and cost-effective, allowing admins to monitor and manage users without the need for other identity management solutions.

With JumpCloud, remote employees use one platform to gain access to virtually all the resources, from zero touch enrollment to the applications they need from anywhere. The result is a better user experience and a secure and manageable infrastructure for a WFH environment.

To learn more about JumpCloud, let’s talk. Ultimately, though, the best way to know if we’re right for your organization is to experience the benefits firsthand. Try JumpCloud Free. We offer 10 users and 10 systems free. Plus, we give you 10 days of premium 24×7 in-app chat support in case you need help. 

Want to hear what organizations that already made the switch are saying? Check out our reviews on G2 Crowd or read real-world case studies.

Brandon White

Brandon is an enthusiast, solutionist, and JumpCloud’s Technical Evangelist, active in journalism and IT in cities across the US for over 25 years. Pick his brain on Slack in the JumpCloud Lounge: http://ow.ly/seTs30qO7WX

Continue Learning with our Newsletter