G Suite Directory vs Directory-as-a-Service®

Written by Greg Keller on November 21, 2016

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We often hear IT admins compare the G Suite directory with our platform, Directory-as-a-Service®. In general, we think that the comparison is a bit more like apples and oranges. The G Suite directory is largely a contact and user database for G Suite applications. You can do some basic web application authentication for a few select apps as well. Unlike G Suite, Directory-as-a-Service is a complete cloud directory services platform.

Differences Concerning Authentication and Management


The differences between G Suite directory and the cloud-hosted directory service are really concerning what you can authenticate and manage. G Suite is truly a local directory service for G Suite applications.


If an IT organization wants a central directory service similar to Microsoft Active Directory or OpenLDAP, then G Suite directory is not the choice. Generally, when IT admins are searching for a core, authoritative identity provider, they are looking to connect their system, applications, and networks to that service. All users would be located inside the user database, then connections to the IT resources they need would be made.

Understanding What Shaped the G Suite Directory

Google’s view of directory services was largely shaped when they created Google Apps, the previous name for G Suite. Google Apps was created at a time when Microsoft Active Directory was the dominant directory and Windows was the main platform of choice. This all made sense at the time because very few organizations had moved to the cloud. Also, Apple was at the beginning of its resurgence.

Back then, it didn’t make sense for GApps to try to take on Active Directory while it was eliminating Microsoft Exchange and competing with the Windows file server and Office.

Over time, though, centralized user management functionality became quite critical. The method that Google Apps suggested was to leverage a separate server that integrated the two solutions – it was called Google Apps Directory Sync, or GADS for short.

Formation of Cloud-Hosted Directory Services

For a while, GADS was a viable solution. Well, at least until IT organizations started shifting more of their infrastructure to the cloud. As this happened, leaving an Active Directory server and GADS implementation on-prem wasn’t exactly what IT wanted to do.

Instead, these cloud-forward organizations started searching for a cloud-hosted directory service. They found Directory-as-a-Service. As a SaaS-delivered platform, this Identity-as-a-Service solution is cross-platform and authenticates virtually all of a user’s IT resources, including their laptop or desktop, AWS cloud servers, on-prem or cloud applications, and network access.

G Suite and Directory-as-a-Service Pair Well

jumpcloud g suite integration

In short, JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Sercice is the perfect companion to G Suite. A user’s G Suite credentials can now be leveraged throughout the organization’s IT infrastructure. For IT, the benefit is to be able to centrally manage all user access from a web-based console. IT has control over access whether users have Windows, macOS, or Linux devices or if they use G Suite or other on-prem application. When it comes to debating whether you should use G Suite directory or Directory-as-a-Service, it really isn’t a comparison. If you are looking for a central user management system, then Directory-as-a-Service is your choice.

Drop us a note to learn more about how G Suite and Directory-as-a-Service integrate to form a powerful duo. Also, please give our virtual identity provider a try. You can sign up for a free account where your first 10 users are free forever.

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