Future of AD DS

Written by Natalie Bluhm on March 8, 2019

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Is Azure® Active Directory® Domain Services (Azure AD DS) the future of AD DS (Active Directory Domain Services)? The short answer is no, but in this piece we will discuss what the future holds in store for Microsoft® ’s identity and access management approach.

When AD DS Made Sense

AD DS has been a mainstay in networks for many years because Active Directory has been the on-prem identity provider of choice for Microsoft-focused networks. When you factor in the reality that Microsoft owned the OS and application space with Windows® and Office, it’s easy to understand how they came to be the leading identity management solution. After all, if your IT environment consisted of mostly Windows IT resources, why wouldn’t you leverage AD DS, the very tool made to control user access to them?

Also, control was just one benefit of using Active Directory Domain Services. It also created an easier workflow for end users. Users would simply enter their credentials into their Windows laptop or desktop, and they would be automatically connected to whatever on-prem Windows-based resources they were entitled to. The process was seamless—until it wasn’t.

The Impact of Change on AD DS

Azure AD

Around the early 2000s, the IT landscape shifted to mixed platform environments and to the cloud, so the concept of an on-prem domain has been slowly breaking down. In particular, IT organizations have been struggling to securely connect users to IT resources such as macOS® and Linux® machines, AWS® or GCP™ cloud infrastructure, web applications, and more.

To remain competitive, Microsoft did release their own cloud computing service, called Azure. They’ve also introduced a solution to manage user access to resources hosted on Azure, called Azure Active Directory, and Azure AD DS is part of the Azure Active Directory platform. With these new options, many can’t help but wonder if Azure AD DS is the future of AD DS. Will Azure AD DS be the solution they need to manage their cross-platform, cloud-forward environments?

Is Azure AD DS in the Cards for You?

Well, Azure AD DS is focused on creating a domain within Azure. It is not really focused on integrating non-Azure resources with the domain. As a result, mixed platforms such as Linux hosted at AWS and macOS on-prem continue to remain outside of Microsoft’s umbrella of management capabilities. On the topic of replacing AD DS, Azure AD DS isn’t focused on that either.

If you’re ready to move your identity provider to the cloud and centralize user access to all of your IT resources, the good news is there are other options. One of them is a completely different approach to cloud directory services that can be leveraged by IT admins and is Active Directory Domain Services reimagined for the cloud era. Called Directory-as-a-Service® , this cloud domain controller can replace the concept of on-prem AD DS and Azure AD DS in one comprehensive cloud directory service.

Why JumpCloud?

IT admins can integrate virtually all of their IT resources with JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service, regardless of protocol, platform, provider, and location. As a result, they gain widespread visibility and control over the following: Linux, Mac, and Windows systems; LDAP and SAML applications, cloud file storage and Samba-based file servers like NAS appliances; and RADIUS networks. Not only does this strengthen security and optimize IT processes, but it also provides users with frictionless access to everything they need to Make Work Happen™. Further, JumpCloud is completely cloud-based. It doesn’t require any on-prem hardware or software. Combined with the fact that JumpCloud also takes care of the configuration, maintenance, and security of the identity management platform, IT admins are simply left with managing users and systems within the cloud-based directory service.

The future of AD DS may be limited, but, with the emergence of JumpCloud, the future of directory services is very promising.

Where to Go From Here

If the future of AD DS is not what you had in mind, there are a few ways you can learn more. To see JumpCloud in action, consider registering for our weekly introductory webinar. Of course, if you want to do the driving, sign up for a free account. With the entire platform available and ten users free forever, you’ll get a real feel for how JumpCloud can help with your identity provider needs. Lastly, don’t hesitate to drop us a note if you would like to talk to one of our technical experts. We’re happy to help however we can.

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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