Using Google Workspace and Active Directory? There’s a Better Way.

Written by Brandon White on September 23, 2020

Share This Article

Updated on September 27, 2021

Do you have one foot in the cloud with Google Workspace (formerly G Suite™) and one foot on-premises with Microsoft® Active Directory®? That can be a tricky balancing act for even the most experienced IT administrator. But the challenge of managing Windows® applications as well as web applications (plus cloud infrastructure, third-party storage solutions, and networks spanning multiple locations) isn’t going away.

When Two Isn’t Better Than One

When Google introduced Google Workspace (originally as Google Apps) it caught fire in enterprises immediately. The cloud-based approach didn’t require additional software or on-prem hardware, and Gmail didn’t need to integrate with many different solutions (e.g. you just used the web interface to do email). Organizations could easily adopt it, and users were happily productive out of the gate. 

Enthusiasm for Google Workspace hasn’t waned. In fact, quite the opposite.

This spring, at the start of pandemic lockdown and the quick, massive pivot to work from home, Google reported surpassing 6 million G Suite paying customers. In fact, with millions of people working from home, by March, the Google Meet video-calling service had 25 times more users than it did in January of this this year. 

With all its benefits to organizations and users, Google Workspace doesn’t eliminate the need for a separate identity and access management (IAM) solution, namely AD. That means, for most organizations, managing both a cloud-based and on-prem infrastructure is now a clear reality. 

Given the reality, the hard truth is that if you’re simultaneously operating in the cloud and on-prem, then you’re simply not operating at full efficiency. Fortunately, the good news is there’s an alternative: the cloud directory platform.

Why Cloud Directory Platforms Make Sense

A cloud directory platform allows you to move your directory services entirely to the cloud and still fully support your end users. With a cloud directory platform, you won’t need your AD server. In many cases, the only on-prem hardware you’ll have to manage is your WiFi network equipment. And for most IT organizations, that’s a significant game changer. 

But eliminating virtually all on-prem equipment is only the beginning of the value a cloud directory platform delivers where AD falls short.

With a cloud directory platform, admins can more easily manage the many non-Microsoft technologies organizations increasingly depend on to get work done, including Mac® and Linux® devices. AD doesn’t do that, at least not very well. While AD provides basic authentication for Mac and Linux, it doesn’t go far enough. Amid today’s heightened security threats, organizations need stronger identity security controls than ever before.

Beyond security, admins are looking for comprehensive, central solutions to authenticate, authorize, and manage all devices—across technologies including systems, servers, applications, storage solutions, and networking equipment. A cloud directory platform delivers in all areas.  

Cloud directory platforms like JumpCloud manage and connect users to virtually any IT resource regardless of platform, provider, protocol, or location in one comprehensive cloud-based solution. They’re designed to be vendor- and platform-agnostic so admins can manage and authenticate users to virtually all their IT resources from a central point of command. It’s the efficiency that just isn’t possible with one foot on-prem and one in the cloud.

Make the Move from AD to a Cloud Directory Platform

If you’ve made the jump to G Suite and are held back by your on-prem AD infrastructure, contact us to learn more about JumpCloud.

Over 100,000 organizations already use JumpCloud for their cloud directory and identity access management needs. Set up a JumpCloud Free account today for unrestricted access to the platform, which you can use to manage up to 10 users and 10 systems free. With the free account, you can evaluate the platform and determine whether it meets your specific environment’s needs. 

Brandon White

Brandon is an enthusiast, solutionist, and JumpCloud’s Technical Evangelist, active in journalism and IT in cities across the US for over 25 years. Pick his brain on Slack in the JumpCloud Lounge:

Continue Learning with our Newsletter