By Natalie Bluhm Posted January 31, 2018
G Suite® is the most widely used SaaS product (Blissfully). As IT organizations look to expand their use of G Suite and other services, one area of interest is Google IdP (identity provider). Google has created successful alternatives for Microsoft® Exchange, Windows® File Server, and Office. Is Google creating another alternative to a Microsoft solution with Google IdP? Specifically, many IT admins are wondering about Google IdP and Windows user management. Can Google’s identity and system management capabilities replace Microsoft Active Directory®?
It is expected that 50% of IT environments leveraging G Suite are going to run 100% in the cloud by 2020 (BetterCloud). So, it makes sense that IT has started looking for a cloud alternative to Active Directory, the leading on-prem identity provider. However, let’s take a closer look at Google IdP and Windows user management. Doing so will make it clear why Google IdP isn’t the solution IT admins are looking for.
A Look at Google’s Strategy
As IT organizations started to think about shifting to the cloud, G Suite (formerly Google Apps) was one of the first solutions to be considered. G Suite has already eliminated a wide array of on-prem Microsoft technology (e.g. Exchange, Office 365™), but Active Directory wasn’t one of those on-prem resources that Google was looking to replace. Google knew that AD was firmly entrenched, and as a result they decided not to take an approach to identity services that competed with Active Directory.
Today, the IT landscape is much more cloud-forward than it was even six years ago when Google Drive surfaced. For example, the average spending for SaaS products per company has quadrupled since 2015 (Blissfully). SaaS products aren’t the only resource transforming the office, though. Today, the IT landscape has shifted to cloud servers at GCP and AWS, Mac and Linux devices are replacing Windows systems, and employees aren’t always working in an actual office. With all of these changes, is Google reconsidering and pitting their Google IdP to compete with Active Directory? The short answer is no.
Problems with Google IdP and Windows User Management
Google hasn’t shifted their strategy, and they are still not competing with AD. In fact, Google IdP isn’t even an authentication source for Windows systems, and Windows user management tasks can’t be handled through Google IdP. Google’s identity provider is really just a user management system for Google services and a few web-based applications. It is not an authentication source for systems, on-prem applications, WiFi, or file servers, and it is not a replacement to Active Directory. While Google IdP and Windows user management are not an option, the good news is a cloud alternative to Active Directory does exist.
A Cloud IdP with Windows User Management
This cloud identity management platform can synchronize the credentials between G Suite users and Windows systems. In fact, end users can leverage one set of credentials to access all of their IT resources. This includes their systems (Windows, Mac, Linux), cloud and on-prem servers (AWS, GCP, internal data centers), legacy or cloud apps (via SAML and LDAP), virtual or physical storage (such as Samba file servers and NAS appliances), and wired and WiFi networks (through RADIUS).
So, the solution for Google IdP and Windows user management isn’t a Google service, but rather a third party solution called JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service®. In addition to connecting a users G Suite credentials to all of their IT resources, this cloud identity provider offers deep system management with features like Commands and Policies. IT admins can use Commands to remotely execute scripts like patching systems, and Policies to enable more control over system behavior within their IT environment. With a few clicks, IT admins can block USB ports or set screen-saver settings across their entire fleet of systems. Commands and Policies work across Mac, Linux, and Windows systems to help IT admins ensure all workstations meet compliance and security standards. With JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service, IT admins can fully move to the cloud, create a seamless experience for end users, and strengthen security in their environment.
Discover more about Windows User Management with JumpCloud
Find out more about managing systems with JumpCloud by watching the whiteboard video above. For more information about why Google IdP and Windows user management isn’t an effective cloud identity management solution, drop us a note. Ready to start testing our G Suite integration and system management capabilities? Sign up for a free account. You will have full access to all of our features, and your first ten users are free forever.