We get this question a lot:
“Can G Suite’s directory service be your core, central, and authoritative identity provider?”
The simple answer is, “No.”
But, there is a lot more to the discussion about how G Suite’s directory operates.
Understanding Google’s Strategy with G Suite
G Suite doesn’t have a directory service in the traditional sense. It doesn’t authenticate, authorize, or manage users and their device, application, and network access.
Instead, G Suite’s directory capabilities really are focused on access to G Suite services such as email, storage, productivity, and meetings.
G Suite also offers limited SSO functionality, into some select web applications via G Suite credentials and the SAML and OAuth authentication protocols. But, unfortunately, the G Suite identity provider functionality doesn’t authenticate a user’s laptop or desktop, cloud servers at AWS, on-prem LDAP-based applications, or WiFi authentication.
The Reasons Behind the Success of G Suite
Over 2mm businesses have made the leap to the cloud with G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps for Work). The primary drivers for the move have been to outsource email hosting, leverage cost-effective productivity applications, and storage and communication solutions.
The value for IT organizations is immense.
Instead of having on-prem servers and expending time and resources managing infrastructure, all of that can be outsourced to Google. Further, Google’s SaaS-based model is capital efficient for organizations. That is a big part of why startups jumped on what was then Google Apps very early.
Over time, enterprises also shifted to Google Apps making it a highly popular solution across the market. Ultimately, Microsoft took notice and ended up developing Office 365 to compete with G Suite.
Office 365 Challenges Google
The comparison between G Suite and Office 365 is important and one of the key areas that is missing in both services is directory services. Both G Suite and Office 365 assume that organizations will leverage Active Directory or OpenLDAP.
Unfortunately, for cloud forward organizations having their productivity suite in the cloud and their directory service on-prem makes no sense. G Suite’s directory service isn’t an alternative because it isn’t a central user management platform.
G Suite as a Cloud Directory
If you would like to learn more about G Suite directory services, look into JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service® platform. It is tightly integrated with G Suite and is able to leverage G Suite identities to be the core set of credentials across an organization’s system, applications, and networks.
Feel free to give our Identity-as-a-Service platform a try for yourself. It’s quick to integrate with G Suite and you’ll have central control over user management in G Suite.