G Suite™ Directory Vs Azure® Active Directory®

By Greg Keller Posted November 18, 2016

With G Suite™ effectively replacing Microsoft® Exchange, the question often turns to, “Which is the right solution for our directory service, G Suite Directory vs Azure® Active Directory®?”

Historically, the discussion has been whether G Suite directory can replace Active Directory, but with the advent of Azure, there is some discussion about whether either of those components can serve as a directory service.

The upshot of this is that neither serves as the core directory, but a solution called Directory-as-a-Service® does and can integrate seamlessly with both G Suite and Microsoft Office 365™.

Pros & Cons of G Suite™ Directory

google-apps-directory

G Suite directory is largely a user management platform. It authenticates users to the suite of Google Apps.

It also does offer some minimal authentication services via OAuth and SAML. The number of web applications that leverage these two authentication protocols with G Suite are fairly minimal.

An organization’s systems, on-prem applications, and network are outside of the scope of G Suite directory. G Suite isn’t meant to be a core, authoritative directory service.

google-apps-misses-resources-white

When Google Apps was first created, Microsoft Active Directory was the dominant player in directory services and it made no sense for Google to take on AD when it was already replacing Microsoft Exchange. But, today, IT organizations are moving fully to the cloud and they are looking for a companion to their productivity platform, G Suite or O365./pablo-21.pngWhen Google Apps was first created, Microsoft Active Directory was the dominant player in directory services and it made no sense for Google to take on AD when it was already replacing Microsoft Exchange. But, today, IT organizations are moving fully to the cloud and they are looking for a companion to their productivity platform, G Suite or O365.

Google’s chief competition in the cloud productivity space is Microsoft Office 365.

Pros & Cons of Azure® Active Directory®

azure-active-directory

Microsoft’s version of the user management system is called Azure Active Directory. The name confuses many IT admins because the first thought is that Microsoft has moved their on-prem directory to the cloud.

Unfortunately that’s not the case.

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Azure AD is a completely different code base with a different strategy. Microsoft will connect their on-prem Active Directory to Azure AD and have the identities federated to the cloud version. If you don’t have the on-prem AD, then you can’t authenticate your systems, on-prem applications, and networks.

So, similar to G Suite directory, Azure AD is really more of a user management platform for Azure and the systems located there.

G Suite & O365, Better with Directory-as-a-Service

When organizations are shifting to the cloud with O365 or G Suite, the companion directory service to use is the cloud hosted directory service called Directory-as-a-Service.

The virtual identity provider tightly integrates with both G Suite and O365 enabling IT admins to centrally manage user provisioning, deprovisioning, and modifications. As well, the IDaaS platform authenticates to a user’s systems (Windows®, macOS®, Linux®), on-prem and cloud applications, and networks. Directory-as-a-Service is the cloud replacement to Active Directory.

The Final Word: G Suite Directory vs Azure Active Directory

If you would like to learn more about G Suite directory vs Azure Active Directory and how Directory-as-a-Service is a better option, drop us a note. Or, you can sign-up for a free account and tie it to either G Suite or O365 and see how it works as a cloud identity management platform for you. Your first 10 users are free forever.

Greg Keller

Greg is JumpCloud's Chief Product Officer, overseeing the product management team, product vision and go-to-market execution for the company's Directory-as-a-Service offering. The SaaS-based platform re-imagines Active Directory and LDAP for the cloud era, securely connecting and managing employees, their devices and IT applications.

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