Google Workspace Identity Service

Written by Zach DeMeyer on October 19, 2020

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A common question for IT admins is what is the Google® Workspace identity service?

It’s a little bit of a tough question to answer, because Google Workspace doesn’t really have an identity service. It does have a directory for its own applications and it will authenticate a few, select web applications, but it isn’t a traditional identity management platform. It’s easy for IT admins to jump to the conclusion that you can do a number of things with what was formerly known as G Suite™.

Unfortunately, having Google Workspace be your identity service isn’t one of them. Below, we’ll explain why that is and then give you an example of how you can make Google Workspace identities your core identities across your entire organization.

Why Doesn’t Google Make its Own Identity Service?

When Google Workspace (first called Google Apps and then G Suite) first came to market, the IT landscape was dramatically different than it is today. So here’s a little history.

Google Apps first introduced offices to the concept of the cloud and cloud hosted infrastructure and applications. It all started with email (Gmail) eliminating the need for an on-prem Microsoft® Exchange server. Google, of course, added basic productivity applications to the mix and Google Apps was effectively born.

At that time, the identity management platform of choice was Microsoft Active Directory® and that wasn’t going to change.

The world was still largely Windows®-based and on-prem. AWS® was just starting to take hold in startups, but was still relatively nascent. So, it made sense for Google to integrate Google Apps with Active Directory and OpenLDAP™ rather than build their own identity management service.

And, that’s what they did with their integration tool Google Apps Directory Sync (GADS or Google Workspace Directory Sync now). That strategy worked fine when people were on AD and largely Windows. 

The Future of Google Workspace and Identities

Now, most organizations are mixed platform environments and many have eschewed Active Directory in favor of a modern, cloud hosted directory service platform called JumpCloud®. The beauty of this virtual identity provider is that it matches the Google Workspace model of cloud delivered, scalable, and cost-effective.

JumpCloud tightly integrates with the Google Workspace platform via APIs. No extra server with GADS is required and no equipment — such as an AD server — is hosted on-prem. In effect, this cloud directory platform is the Google Workspace identity service.

Full Google Workspace Integration with JumpCloud

If you would like to learn more about the Google Workspace identity service — or how you can integrate Google Workspace with a core, authoritative directory service, drop us a note

Or, feel free to give our Identity-as-a-Service platform a try for yourself. You can quickly integrate it with Google Workspace and see what central directory control looks like with Google Workspace. The account is easy to set up and your first 10 users are free.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a Product Marketing Specialist at JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, music, and soccer.

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