Google Cloud IAM vs Azure Active Directory®

Written by Rajat Bhargava on January 4, 2017

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There’s a significant business war going on in the cloud infrastructure space. Google and Microsoft are going toe-to-toe for ownership of cloud infrastructure. Of course, they are also competing with AWS, the market share leader.

The strategy for these infrastructure giants is to not only provide cloud servers, but also a number of applications and management services around the core infrastructure. A key part of these ancillary services is to provide identity and access management solutions.

As a result, the competition for cloud infrastructure extends to Google Cloud IAM vs Azure Active Directory as well.

Needing Server-Level Management and Security

IT organizations are aggressively shifting to the cloud. Instead of building their own data centers, IT organizations are leveraging Infrastructure-as-a-Service providers, including Google Cloud and Azure.

The challenge for IT is that their on-prem systems are well developed with significant management tools, security solutions, and overall control. It’s no mystery that IT organizations are looking for that level of depth with cloud provider solutions. Without the management and security solutions attached to the cloud server, the move to the cloud isn’t happening.

Comparing Google Cloud IAM vs Azure Active Directory

Google Cloud and Azure have introduced a key set of identity and access management solutions called Google Cloud IAM and Azure Active Directory. Both of these cloud IAM solutions are helping IT organizations make the shift to IaaS.

google vs microsoft

Both Cloud IAM and Azure AD are essentially user management platforms for Google Cloud and Azure, respectively. They are able to control user access to those services. For instance, Google Cloud IAM is the identity access control center for the web management console. Admins are able to provide control over whom has the right to create and manage cloud projects. Google Cloud IAM doesn’t, however, provide the ability to control user access at the server level.

Azure Active Directory is a little different. In addition to being the user management platform for Azure, it also provides the ability to control users at the Windows server level and with Office 365. The challenge is still generally the same, though. Azure AD is the user management platform Azure, so connecting Azure AD identities with AWS, Google Cloud, or other provider isn’t possible.

In addition, neither Google Cloud IAM nor Azure AD functions as the core identity provider for an organization. That task is left to the IT organization to figure out. This is a key weakness in both strategies because the organization wants to have one central, authoritative directory service for the organization. Having multiple user management platforms or what we like to call ‘mini directories’ can create a significant amount of work and a great deal of security risk.

Delivering at The Cloud Server Level: JumpCloud®

The good news is that there is a cloud directory service that can serve as the central identity management system for an organization. Called Directory-as-a-Service®, the IDaaS platform centralizes user identities and securely connects them to the systems, applications, and networks that the users need. Those connections include being at the cloud server level regardless of platform. Directory-as-a-Service tightly integrates with AWS, Google Cloud, Azure, Office 365, and G Suite, among many other solutions. Windows, Mac, and Linux devices are controlled, as are cloud and on-prem applications. Directory-as-a-Service is a complementary solution to Google Cloud IAM and Azure Active Directory.

Learn More About JumpCloud

If you would like to learn more about Google Cloud IAM vs Azure Active Directory, drop us a note. We’d be happy to walk you through the differences between those provider-specific user management platforms and a cloud identity management solution.

Rajat Bhargava

Rajat Bhargava is co-founder and CEO of JumpCloud, the first Directory-as-a-Service (DaaS). JumpCloud securely connects and manages employees, their devices and IT applications. An MIT graduate with two decades of experience in industries including cloud, security, networking and IT, Rajat is an eight-time entrepreneur with five exits including two IPOs, three trade sales and three companies still private.

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