G Suite Active Directory Sync

Written by Greg Keller on October 6, 2016

Share This Article

G Suite™ (formerly known as Google Apps for Work) is one of the most popular cloud application on the planet today.

With over five businesses that use the productivity suite, IT admins have a challenge with how to manage G Suite users. Many of these organizations are leveraging Microsoft® Active Directory® as their core, authoritative identity provider. G Suite Active Directory Sync (also known as Google Apps Directory Sync or GADS) is the connective layer that integrates both G Suite and AD.

Why G Suite Active Directory Sync?


From a practical perspective, IT admins are looking for one central directory service that connects to all of their IT resources. Those resources could be systems, cloud servers, cloud or on-prem applications, and networks.

Historically, Active Directory has served this function. AD was introduced at the height of Windows® dominance, and the solution helped Microsoft maintain strong control over IT organizations. AD centrally managed Windows-based systems and applications.

As a result, AD became the directory services solution of choice.

As Google Apps came onto the scene in the late 2000s, IT admins wanted to control users from their central user management platform, AD. The result was that Google integrated GApps with AD via a solution called GADS.

The G Suite Active Directory Sync solution is a separate server that integrates AD into GApps. Any user changes in AD can be reflected inside of G Suite. User adds, deletes, and modifies are transmitted to G Suite via the AD sync solution. IT admins were able to maintain their authoritative directory with AD, yet still manage users in G Suite without complication.

Limitations with AD and GADS

screenshot-docs.google.com 2016-07-15 14-47-50

The issue with this approach is not that it doesn’t work (although with an extra server in the middle it does add more work and issues). The real issue is that it keeps IT organizations with more equipment and resources on-prem versus moving to the cloud.

hi res logos

There’s another major challenge. Most of these cloud forward organizations are also using MacOS and Linux devices. So AD ends up being a poor choice for their directory services.


Add in AWS® cloud servers, and not only does IT want to move to G Suite, but it also wants a cloud directory service.

Looking for a More Versatile Directory?

Instead of leveraging G Suite Active Directory Sync or GADS, IT organizations can leverage Directory-as-a-Service®. Tightly integrated with G Suite, this cloud identity management platform serves as the central user management platform the entire enterprise. G Suite identities are leveraged for access to not only the G Suite of applications, but the user’s laptop or desktop, cloud servers, cloud and on-prem applications, and their network. Directory-as-a-Service is a modern True Single Sign-On™ platform integrating systems, applications, and network user access regardless of platform, location, or protocol.

JumpCloud directory-as-a-service

If you would like to learn more about G Suite Active Directory Sync or perhaps if Directory-as-a-Service is an alternative to GADS for you, drop us a note. We’d be happy to talk to you about how we have integrated a virtual identity provider into GApps. Also, feel free to sign-up for an account to test the solution for yourself. Your first 10 users are free forever.

Continue Learning with our Newsletter