Google Cloud Directory Sync Replacement

Written by Vince Lujan on May 16, 2018

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Google Cloud Directory Sync (GCDS), formerly known as Google Apps Directory Sync™  (GADS), is a core component of the Google approach to identity management services. GCDS is a cloud identity bridge that federates on-prem user identities – generally from Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) – to Google cloud services such as G Suite™ (formerly Google Apps) and Google Cloud Platform™ (GCP). Yet, as IT admins think about shifting from AD on-prem to cloud directory alternatives, they will also need to consider a Google Cloud Directory Sync replacement.

The good news is that JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® is not only a Google Cloud Directory Sync replacement, but an Active Directory alternative as well. We’ll explain how this is possible in this blog post, but first, we should discuss why IT organizations need a Google Cloud Directory Sync replacement to begin with.

A Brief History of Identity Management

Most IT admins consider the advent of LDAP to be the genesis of the modern identity management space. However, this is primarily because LDAP subsequently inspired two of the most popular directory services platforms in use today: OpenLDAP™ and Microsoft Active Directory. These on-prem identity management platforms have served as the core IdPs in most IT organizations for nearly twenty years now. AD has been especially popular, due in large part to the dominance of the Microsoft Windows® operating system.

Microsoft introduced Active Directory in 1999, at the height of Windows usage in the enterprise. At the time, just about every IT resource was Windows-based and on-prem. AD was developed to help IT admins manage this type of environment. As a result, implementing AD was an easy decision because it was effectively the only tool required to manage an entire organization’s IT infrastructure.

Then Came Web Applications

The IT landscape started to shift when web applications were introduced in the mid-2000s. For example, Google Apps (now called G Suite) offered powerful cloud alternatives for on-prem Microsoft applications like Office®, Exchange®, and Windows Server®. Interestingly, however, Google decided not to eliminate the need for Active Directory. Instead, they developed an identity bridge designed to sync the on-prem directory services platform (usually AD) with Google Apps. Hence the original name of their utility, Google Apps Directory Sync. The end result is that IT admins could manage access to Google applications with AD credentials.

Why Sync with AD?

The goal of Google’s cloud identity program isn’t to be a comprehensive cloud directory or a replacement to AD. Instead, Google wants to work with an organization’s on-prem AD infrastructure and bridge those identities to the cloud via GADS. Google recently even changed the name to GCDS to show that their on-prem directory extension can now be used for more than just connecting users to G Suite, but to GCP as well. Clearly, Google is fine with maintaining the status quo – but can the same be said for modern IT admins?

Clouds on the Horizon

As previously noted, modern IT admins are thinking about shifting their entire on-prem identity management infrastructure to the cloud. For most, that means replacing their on-prem AD implementation with a comprehensive cloud-based directory services alternative. However, GCDS is a software service that IT admins install and manage on-prem. It is tightly integrated with AD on-prem, while connecting it to Google’s infrastructure in the cloud. Without AD on-prem, or anything on-prem for that matter, the question for IT admins becomes:

How do I manage access to Google apps and services without AD on-prem and without GCDS?

Easy – leverage a comprehensive cloud alternative to AD that doesn’t need GCDS. In other words, leverage JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service.

JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service: A Google Cloud Directory Sync Replacement

Use JumpCloud for a Google Cloud Directory Sync Replacement

JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is a modern cloud IdP platform that is tightly integrated with G Suite and GCP. As the source of truth for user authentication, the JumpCloud platform can securely manage and connect users to virtually any IT resource. This includes access to Google apps and services, but also systems, applications, files, and networks and regardless of the platform, provider, protocol, or location.

The best part is that JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is completely cloud-based. That means IT admins can not only eliminate the need for GCDS, but their entire on-prem AD implementation as well. The end result is that IT admins can seamlessly manage their entire IT infrastructure with one holistic cloud-based solution via JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service.

Learn More about the JumpCloud G Suite Integration

Check out our whiteboard presentation to see how the JumpCloud platform can serve as a Google Cloud Directory Sync replacement. Drop us a note or schedule a demo if you have any questions. If you’re ready to leave AD and GCDS in the dust and join us in the cloud, sign up for a free account today. We’ll even make it so that your first ten users are free forever so that you can explore the full functionality of our platform at no cost.

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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