Google Apps Directory Service

Written by Rajat Bhargava on November 3, 2015

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A number of IT admins have the notion that Google Apps can perform double duty as a directory service. Many admins believe once they choose to not use Microsoft Exchange, they may also eliminate the need for Microsoft Active Directory.

Identifying the Drawbacks of Google Apps

Google Apps does not function as a directory service in the sense that most IT admins believe. A directory service is generally thought of as a solution that connects users to a wide variety of IT resources, including devices, applications, and networks. Historically, Microsoft Active Directory and OpenLDAP have been the directory services of choice. Both solutions are on-premises software. AD is focused on Windows environments, while LDAP is centered on  Linux-based scenarios. While both solutions have worked well  in the past, they haven’t made a seamless transition to cloud infrastructure and services, resulting in admins turning to Google Apps as a directory service.

The concept would be for an organization to use its Google Apps Directory to for more than merely logging into Google applications. Ideally, the Google Apps identity would be used in a couple of ways:  when connecting to the WiFi network upon arrival at the office, and when  logging in to laptop and desktop computers. The process would be the same on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. From there, the Google Apps identity could be employed for internal servers, cloud servers hosted at, say, AWS or Google Compute Engine, web-based and legacy applications, and virtually anything else a user needs to access.

Improving Google Apps with the Cloud

Google Apps identities don’t work that way, though. Google hasn’t built a full-fledged directory service; it’s more of a directory for Google applications. Luckily, there is a viable solution to this huge problem faced by Google Apps admins. Directory-as-a-Service was created to be a cloud-based, cross-platform directory service. This allows integration of Google Apps with other cloud services in order to provide one identity used across an enterprise’s entire IT infrastructure. The myriad of servers, applications, and IT resources included is exhaustive: Windows, Mac, Linux, cloud and on-premises servers, web-based and legacy applications, and all other user access controlled devices.

JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service delivers one system with one identity connected to all of an organization’s IT resources with Google Apps at the center. Now, a user’s Google Apps credentials are the same ones that they use elsewhere. IT admins have one central console to provision, deprovision, and modify user access. User management in the cloud is complementary to how Google Apps works, and there no longer exists the need for on-premises software. Directory-as-a-Service is the Google Apps Directory Service that IT admins have been looking for.

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