Google Cloud Directory Sync™ Alternative

Written by Vince Lujan on March 28, 2018

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What was once Google Apps Directory Sync (GADS) is now Google Cloud Directory Sync (GCDS), and it is a significant focus as IT admins decide how to integrate their identity management infrastructure with G Suite and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Yet, because GCDS forces IT admins to keep their identity and access management (IAM) infrastructure on-prem, IT organizations are searching for a Google Cloud Directory Sync alternative. Before we dig into GCDS replacements, however, we should broaden the conversation to understand the reasoning behind the overall solution.

What is Google Cloud Directory Sync?

Google Cloud Identity Management

Google Cloud Directory Sync, or GCDS for short, is an on-prem directory services extension created by Google. It has traditionally been used to sync on-prem user identities, typically from Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD), to Google Apps (now called G Suite). Hence the original name, Google Apps Directory Sync.

Why is Google Cloud Directory Sync Important?

Google introduced G Suite over a decade ago, under the name of Google Apps, to compete directly with Microsoft Office®, Exchange®, and Windows Server®. The idea was to enable IT admins to shift a portion of their IT infrastructure to the cloud, and deliver services via a browser rather than a thick client.

There were tremendous benefits to this approach including cost savings and giving IT organizations the chance to switch their systems and applications infrastructure from Microsoft to other platforms (e.g. Mac and Linux). Yet, while Google focused on the productivity suite, one area they didn’t focus on was the directory service.

Google realized that Active Directory was too entrenched in the enterprise, so they opted to provide an identity bridge from AD to Google Apps via GCDS instead. In doing so, IT admins could effectively manage access to G Suite using Active Directory credentials. Without GCDS, IT admins would have to manage Google offerings separately from AD.

Issues with Google Cloud Directory Sync

G Suite Google Identity Management Challenges

GCDS has been an essential tool for IT admins. The issue has been this solution requires another server that IT needs to manage and integrate to federate identities from AD to G Suite. Of course, another on-prem server wasn’t necessarily an issue when most IT environments were Windows-based and on-prem. However, as the IT landscape started to shift and more was moving to the cloud, Google Cloud Directory Sync started to become the path to the past rather than a bridge to the future.

Google Cloud Directory Sync Alternatives

G Suite JumpCloud Integration

The good news is that there are alternatives to GCDS, as well as even the on-prem identity management infrastructure. JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® is a modern cloud identity management solution that shifts the entire identity management approach to the cloud and extends it to be cross platform. The result is that there is no need to have GCDS, or even Active Directory.

This is because JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service securely manages and connects users to their IT resources, regardless of platform, provider, protocol, or location. This includes access to G Suite, but also systems (Windows, Mac, Linux), cloud and on-prem applications (G Suite, Office 365 , Jira) Samba File Servers, NAS Appliances), wired and WiFi networks via RADIUS, and more.

Learn More About JumpCloud

jumpcloud learn more demo

Contact JumpCloud to learn more about Google Cloud Directory Sync alternatives. You can also schedule a demo, or sign up for a free account to see JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service in action today. We offer ten free users to help you explore the full functionality of our platform at no cost. Don’t hesitate and join the JumpCloud family today!

Vince Lujan

Vince is a writer and video specialist at JumpCloud. Originally from the horse capital of New Mexico, Corrales, he has lived in Boulder, Colorado for three years. When Vince is not developing content for JumpCloud, he can usually be found at the Boulder Creek.

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