By Zach DeMeyer Posted August 27, 2019
Wouldn’t a free Azure® Active Directory® be great? A more cost-effective version of the identity management tool for the Azure cloud infrastructure service would certainly be a boon to cost-conscious IT organizations. When it comes to actually uncovering a free Azure Active Directory, however, the options are somewhat slim (or at least what you get in the free tier of AAD is). Let’s talk about what Microsoft® has by way of a free Azure Active Directory, and other potential alternatives.
“Free” Azure Active Directory
Historically, Microsoft has bundled many products together giving the impression that they are free, but as IT admins know Microsoft products in the end are far from free just as their $33.7B profit for this year shows. For instance, their traditional directory service, Active Directory®, is offered “free” with the purchase of Windows® Server. They also offer a “free” version of Azure Active Directory (AAD) with the purchase of an Azure Office 365™ subscription.
Of course, the actual functionality of the “free” AAD is limited at best. In essence, every Office 365 (O365) identity is stored in AAD, so by definition, IT organizations using O365 need an AAD instance by association. For the most part, in order to actually start leveraging AAD as intended, organizations need to up their subscription into the paid tiers. In order to fully evaluate the possibility of a truly free AAD, let’s look at what value a paid AAD subscription provides to an organization.
What Does AAD Do?
The AAD suite manages users in the Azure ecosystem. IT organizations can use AAD to connect their pre-existing on-prem Active Directory identities to the cloud infrastructure solution. AAD can also be used to manage other Microsoft solutions like O365, and a few select web applications, a la single sign-on (SSO) solutions.
Despite its functionality, AAD isn’t a full-fledged identity and access management (IAM) platform. Before it hit the market, many thought that AAD would be the cloud replacement for on-prem Active Directory. This is simply not the case. AAD doesn’t really focus on managing systems, networks, or access to a majority of non-Windows resources and applications outside of its core SSO list.
So, with this all in mind, it’s apparent that free Azure Active Directory doesn’t really serve the various IAM needs of an organization. As a result, IT admins are still searching for a cloud-based IAM tool that can offer the same features as AAD and more, all at a reasonably low price. For this reason, IT organizations are seeking out a free Azure AD alternative.
Free Azure AD Alternative
After all, wouldn’t it be nice to have a free option that can do much of what AAD can do, but extend control to virtually all resources? That includes Azure, O365, web apps, as well as systems, networks, other infrastructure and more, regardless of whether they are on-prem or cloud, Windows, Mac, Linux, etc.?
There is a next-generation cloud identity provider/directory service that does just that. Called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®, this solution provides IT admins with the ability to manage their users and their access to the resources listed above. Beyond that, admins can control user security policies at scale, enforcing password complexity, multi-factor authentication (MFA), full disk encryption (FDE), and more across their organization using a single cloud admin console.