With so many free tools and apps available today, IT administrators wonder whether there is a free identity provider (IdP) available for them to use. Well, a number of legacy, open-source directory services solutions are available, but implementing them and managing them requires a great deal of time from skilled technical IT staff, and the hardware you run it on isn’t free. Wouldn’t you rather have your highly skilled technical staff focused on higher priority tasks, like building systems and applications that generate revenue? And, if you can have somebody else handle the hardware, hosting, security, and maintenance, wouldn’t that be better as well?
If this sounds like your situation, then a new generation of cloud-hosted identity providers (often called cloud directory services) might include the solution you are looking for. These are delivered under a SaaS model, often with a free tier for smaller organizations. If you are a larger organization, while they’re not free identity providers, these solutions have a unique pay as you go model and can ultimately be far more cost-effective than so-called free solutions leveraging open-source.
Smart Bundling Created the Façade of a Free Identity Provider
Traditionally, IT organizations simply leveraged Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) to be their identity provider. This made a great deal of sense for a time because IT infrastructure was virtually all Microsoft Windows® based in most organizations. Also, Microsoft made it seem like AD was free. AD seemed like it was free because IT organizations needed to purchase everything that they needed for Windows Server® licenses anyway, so brilliantly, AD was delivered as a module of Windows Server.
Thus, it seemed free to organizations that already needed Windows Server licenses for their whole organization. For others, the need for Active Directory became a driver to purchase Window Server licenses for the entire staff. Either way, it was a smart move by Microsoft, and effectively got the IT industry into the mode of expecting a free identity provider. Microsoft plays some of the same bundling tricks with Azure Active Directory, which isn’t a replacement to AD, but a cloud identity management system nonetheless.
Fast forward to modern times, and IT organizations are looking for similarly cost-effective approaches. Unfortunately, the IT landscape has changed. IT environments now consist of a mixed platform environment with productivity tools and cloud services from a whole host of providers. So, the entire network is no longer entirely Windows based, and more often than not, there isn’t a Windows Server to be found. Since many organizations no longer use Windows Server, there are no Windows Server licenses already purchased. Many IT organizations consider a Domainless Enterprise world instead. So now, the choice of an identity provider ends up costing an organization money.
There are open source, free identity providers such as OpenLDAP™, RedHat Directory Server (Directory 389), FreeIPA, and many others. These, however, come with a different cost: They require a lot more time to implement and maintain, and tend to require experienced staff to administer it.
For example, OpenLDAP often requires someone with an engineering background to manage it. Also, all of these software solutions require hardware to run on, hosting services, backup and security, and other infrastructure management. So, while the open source identity provider is free for the software, the cost to administer, manage, and maintain is not.
However, there is a new generation of cost-effective cloud identity management which is based on a model of paying for what you use. There’s also a free forever tier with 10 users and 10 systems. Further, you get the option of 24×7 premium in-app chat support to help you get started or answer any questions. This solution is called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®.
JumpCloud: A Cost Effective Identity Provider
First, JumpCloud offers a couple of different methods for paying to use our cloud identity provider. IT organizations can either pay on a monthly basis or annually. Additionally, your first ten users and ten systems are free forever, and then you pay per user, 11 users and beyond. The best part is you have full access to the platform regardless of how many users you have. We even throw in 10 days of free 24×7 premium in-app chat support to help you get started.
You’ll be able to manage user access to systems (Windows, Mac®, and Linux®), LDAP and SAML based applications, cloud storage solutions (DropBox™, Box™), on-premises file servers (Samba file servers, NAS appliances like those from Synology and QNAP), and wired and WiFi networks using JumpCloud RADIUS-as-a-Service. Premium services such as System Insights™ and Directory Insights™ are included in your free account as well — forever.
For one set monthly or annual price, modern IT organizations can leverage a modern and secure cloud-based identity provider that empowers them to use the IT resources that work best for them.
Find Out More
Like we mentioned above, JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is not completely a free identity provider, but we do offer a free account that comes with 10 free users forever. See it for yourself by signing up here. If you need some questions answered along the way, view our YouTube tutorial playlist above, browse our Knowledge Base, or drop us a note. We’d be happy to help you out.