G Suite™ and Office 365™ vs Directory-as-a-Service®

Written by Greg Keller on November 24, 2016

Share This Article

Many IT admins look at G Suite™ and Microsoft® Office 365™ and think that they can shift a great deal of their back-end infrastructure to the cloud.

Both G Suite and O365 have hosted email, which is a big component of the core infrastructure that IT needs to manage. The productivity platform also covers a great deal of ground. In addition to critical applications, G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps) and Office 365 both provide file server and storage functionality.

But the capability that is missing from both platforms is directory services. It’s why many IT admins bake-off G Suite and Office 365 vs Directory-as-a-Service®.

Looking To G Suite and O365 for Directory Services

office 365 vs G Suite

It’s easy to understand why IT organizations look to G Suite and O365 for directory services. They already have their users populated in the system and would like to be able to use it for more than just the productivity platform. By moving to the cloud with these platforms, they have replaced Microsoft Exchange and Windows file server. It is only natural for them to want to replace Active Directory as well. At that point, organizations would be able to go completely cloud in a sense.

Likeness to First-Generation Solutions


G Suite directory is Google’s version of cloud identity management. Unfortunately, it is more like first-generation IDaaS solutions, which are really just web application SSO solutions. G Suite identities can be leveraged by Google applications and a few select web applications. These applications leverage the G Suite identity as their core identity and use the OAuth or SAML protocols. Alas, this approach to cloud identity management is quite limited. In fact, IT admins could think of G Suite directory as a central user management platform for Google Apps.


On the other side, Office 365 has Azure Active Directory, their companion solution. Similar to the approach that Google has taken to identity management, Microsoft’s Azure AD is just a central user management platform for Azure services and then a web application SSO solution. To Microsoft’s credit, they have created a deeper catalog of services for web application SSO. But Azure AD does not let organizations authenticate their on-prem systems and devices, on-prem applications, and their WiFi networks. You still need Active Directory to do all of that! Microsoft’s strategy is to maintain their stranglehold on the on-prem directory services with AD and supplement that solution with Azure AD.

Comparing G Suite and Office 365 vs Directory-as-a-Service

gsuite / google workspace to jumpcloud directory as a service

Both of these approaches don’t add up to a full cloud Identity-as-a-Service platform. This is why IT admins will compare G Suite and Office 365 with Directory-as-a-Service. This cloud-hosted directory service is a complete and independent solution. As a next-generation IDaaS platform, it is securely managed and connects user identities to systems (Windows®, Mac®, Linux®), on-prem and cloud applications, and networks regardless of location, provider, protocol, or platform. Directory-as-a-Service covers the concept of replacing Active Directory on-prem and tightly integrating with G Suite and Office 365.

Experience The JumpCloud® Advantage


If you would like to learn more about how G Suite and Office 365 compare to Directory-as-a-Service, drop us a note. We’d be happy to chat with you about cloud identity management approaches. Also, sign up for a free account if you would like to try it for yourself. Your first 10 users are free forever.

Greg Keller

JumpCloud CTO, Greg Keller is a career product visionary and executive management leader. With over two decades of product management, product marketing, and operations experience ranging from startups to global organizations, Greg excels in successful go-to-market execution.

Continue Learning with our Newsletter