Google Identity Services

Written by Jon Griffin on July 12, 2017

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Google has been making a major push into identity management. Of course, Google has a multitude of reasons for being interested in the identity and access management (IAM) market. Ultimately, it boils down to controlling identities to support their other lines of business:  advertising, ecommerce, and cloud applications. As a result, Google Identity Services is at the center of a number of Google initiatives.

The Consumer Approach to Google Identity Services

Google Cloud Identity Management

On the consumer side, owning the user’s identity via Gmail and other Google applications is critical. Google is better able to target all kinds of services to users by tying them to their searches. This translates into higher ad click-throughs, which means happier advertisers, and consequently, more advertising revenue for Google. There’s also a number of e-commerce services that Google can make money on through knowing and controlling the user’s identity. For consumers, it isn’t necessarily a zero-sum game. They may have a Google identity, while also leveraging Facebook and Amazon identities. But the more pervasive Google can make their identities, the more a user is controlled by them. Which also means users are less likely to eschew Google services.

The Business Approach to Google Identity Services

training security

The Google Identity Services approach in the business arena is completely different. In this case, the game does look a lot more like a zero-sum game – at least to Google. If they don’t own your organization’s identities via G Suite Directory, that means either Microsoft Active Directory or Office 365 does. And that’s not a good thing for Google. In fact, it puts your organization’s use of G Suite or Google Cloud at risk if the identities are owned elsewhere – specifically by Microsoft. But this area of Google’s identity management strategy is more complex.

G Suite – which started out as Google Apps for Work – was a direct competitor to Microsoft Exchange, Office, and Windows File Server. Google, however, didn’t want to take on Active Directory because of how entrenched it was in the business world. If you add the fact that AD required much more hand-holding and services to implement, it isn’t hard to understand why. Relatively speaking, Exchange, Office, and file servers could easily be migrated over to G Suite, but Active Directory was another story altogether.

Consequently, Google didn’t focus on competing with AD. But once Microsoft came out with Office 365, their answer to hosted email and cloud productivity solutions, the game had shifted. Microsoft had a huge advantage over Google because of AD. The result was an initiative within Google to focus on cloud identity management.

A Neutral Path Towards Identity and Access Management

Identity and Access Management Pyramid

Unfortunately, IT organizations are caught in the middle of this fight between Microsoft Azure Active Directory and Google Identity Services. But neither of these cloud identity management solutions are a viable alternative to Active Directory. This is because they are not true cloud directory services, just user management solutions for their respective cloud services. But there is a solution. IT admins can leverage a neutral cloud directory service called Directory-as-a-Service® (DaaS).

Seamlessly integrated with both G Suite and O365, Directory-as-a-Service is a true replacement for Active Directory. The unified IT directory acts as a complete cloud directory, securely connecting users to systems, applications, and networks regardless of platform, protocol, provider, or location. That means that G Suite looks a lot like O365, and vice versa. Additionally, Google Cloud and AWS can be utilized interchangeably, and Mac, Linux, and Windows devices can all be controlled via GPO-like policies for user management activities. Directory-as-a-Service doesn’t play favorites, and gives IT organizations the control that they need over user access.

Learn More About DaaS vs Google Identity Services

Google vs JumpCloud

Google Identity Services may be a hot topic, but ultimately IT organizations are looking for a cloud directory service that can cut across IT resources. If you would like to learn more about why Google Identity Services may or may not be right for your organization, drop us a note. Alternatively, sign up for JumpCloud’s identity services solution and integrate it with G Suite to see how a cloud based directory works for you. Your first 10 users are free forever.

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