IDaaS Checklist – Choosing the Right Cloud Identity Platform

Written by Molly Murphy on January 6, 2017

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Updated on August 31, 2022

Let’s face it: everyday, the world moves further online. This fact is true in business, too, as we become more and more dependent on cloud-based services. Identity and access management (IAM) in particular is well-suited to cloud environments, because it offers unparalleled protection and convenience that on-prem simply can’t compete with.

For a while, IT admins were hesitant to migrate to the cloud. But in today’s modern business environment, you can no longer afford to wait. The time to adopt cloud-based IAM, called identity-as-a-service, or, IDaaS, is now. The shift to the cloud may initially feel daunting. But being overwhelmed by options shouldn’t cause you to risk the safety of your IT resources. 

To help you choose the best IDaaS provider possible, we’ve put together the following handy checklist. If the platform you choose has these capabilities, you can rest assured that your company’s cloud resources are in great hands.    

What Are IDaaS and IAM?

The IDaaS market has recently evolved. While it used to refer only to web applications and single sign-on (SSO), it has expanded to include a variety of online identity and access management services. 

Originally, Identity-as-a-Service platforms were just a type of authentication solution that federated identities to web-based applications. 

First-generation IDaaS began, as so many things do, with Microsoft. Over the past 20 years, Microsoft’s Active Directory (AD) has become the commercial market share leader of on-prem identity providers, competing only with OpenLDAP, the open source solution of choice. While AD struggles to manage Linux systems, OpenLDAP was designed with more technical platforms, like Linux, in mind. This means that many companies must manage both AD and LDAP, and then layer on a first-generation IDaaS SSO solution for their cloud-based apps. 

While this system is complex and unwieldy, thankfully there’s a modern solution. Enter: next-generation IDaaS. Next-gen IDaaS (or, as we call it, Directory-as-a-Service) is an all-in-one cloud identity provider that securely manages and connects user identities to systems (Windows, Mac, and Linux), cloud and on-prem applications, and networks. 

Directory-as-a-Service platforms provide centralized user management, hosted LDAP, cloud RADIUS, device management, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and True Single Sign-On™ all in one app. This approach to IDaaS eliminates the need for three different solutions by rolling them all into one seamless pane of glass.

Your IDaaS Checklist:

Now that you understand why you need modern IDaaS, let’s talk about what you need. We encourage you to compare multiple platforms to find the one that best aligns with your company’s unique needs and goals. But be sure the platforms you look at have the following capabilities. 

✓ Is Cloud Native

By definition, all IDaaS solutions are delivered from the cloud. But there’s a big difference between platforms adapted to the cloud, and platforms created for the cloud. 

Adapting legacy, on-prem solutions to work with the cloud is called “cloud washing,” and it almost always involves a clunkier, or more limited management experience compared to on-prem and cloud-native solutions. A true next-generation IDaaS solution is cloud native, meaning it was built from the ground up from the cloud, and for the cloud. These products experience no limitation in their cloud capabilities, because they were designed with remote work in mind, not adjusted to accommodate it after the fact. 

The benefits of these SaaS-delivered solutions are numerous, including shifting the installation and maintenance to the third-party provider.

✓ Is Cost Effective and Scalable 

Of course, a modern IDaaS solution needs to fit within your company’s budget. To make sure your selection does just that, look for an option that is scalable – that is, that can change and grow as your company changes and grows. 

Take JumpCloud, for example. Our platform is free for your first 10 users, giving small businesses or new startups all the tools they need to securely manage their identity services from the cloud. Once your company grows (likely due to increased revenue), you can easily convert to a paid account to enjoy all the features necessary to securely manage a larger group of users.

Platforms with this model are flexible and can easily grow with you – but only when you’re ready. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy best-in-class identity management at the price bracket that fits your budget. 

✓ Connects to Mixed Platform Environments

While Windows was the dominant platform 15 years ago, in recent years Linux has become the de facto platform of choice for technical users, and Mac has grown in popularity among executives, creatives, and average users as well. These mixed environments is where modern IDaaS can really shine, because legacy applications like Active Directory have a hard time managing mixed operating systems. 

But it’s critical that your new IDaas solution does just that, because today’s IT environments are heterogeneous, not homogeneous. Choose a platform purpose-built for managing all three environments seamlessly. 

✓ Supports On-Prem & Cloud Applications

Along with balancing a mixed platform environment, IT admins must manage applications that are both on-prem and in the cloud — and the two often have different authentication protocols and methods. Cloud applications typically use SAML as the protocol, while many on-prem applications use LDAP. 

Choosing a modern IDaaS platform that manages both on-prem and cloud-based applications means whatever the protocol, you’ll be able to control user access.

✓ Controls Access to the WiFi Network

With the move to wireless networks, the concept of domain authenticating to business internet networks has been lost. 

Historically when users connected to wired networks, they would be granted access to the network via a domain controller. It was usually secured by location-based firewalls; i.e., if you are in the company offices using a company device, you’ll be able to connect, but if you’re elsewhere, you won’t be able to without additional security measures like VPN. 

Unfortunately, WiFi doesn’t work that way. But connecting your WiFi network to an IDaas platform lets you manage these connection requests much easier. From the platform, you’ll be able to view, accept or reject all requests for company networks and resources, filling in the holes of WiFi’s known security threats.

✓ Is Adaptable to New Technologies 

Unlike legacy on-prem or Active Directory solutions, cloud IDaaS platforms offer unparalleled adaptability. 

As new technologies arise, cloud developers can easily deploy patches and other updates remotely to all clients using their platform to ensure you experience no downtime. Updates and integrations can be made and implemented much more quickly and easily with remote deployment vs. on-prem hardware updates. It’s a much more evergreen solution to changing technologies, because one thing is certain: while we may not know the exact future of IT, we know that future will be on the cloud. 

✓ Is Compliant

Modern IDaas platforms make adhering to compliance and security laws much easier than their on-prem predecessors. 

Instead of having to rely on your workforce to be 100% security complaint 100% of the time, with modern IDaas you can push updates or require password changes as often as you need to to maintain security. 

In the event of a security breach or issue, modern IDaas also gives you a clear and detailed record of the incident so you can easily record it and get the problem resolved. 

✓ Delivers Increased Identity Security

The modern cloud identity management platform needs to also increase security with modern techniques. Identity theft and compromises of networks are a significant issue that IT admins face, and the number one reason for those breaches is the loss of credentials. 

As the identity management platform moves to the cloud, there needs to be a significant number of security techniques included. One-way hashing and salting of passwords is critical as is secure communication between all components of the IT network. IT admins should look for the next level of security with their IDaaS platform.

This is an especially critical consideration when so many companies are moving toward bring your own device (BYOD) policies. These devices can be unruly and difficult to regulate security risks on their own. But modern IDaaS platforms like JumpCloud are installed on BYOD devices as fully self-contained units that can easily and quickly be removed from the device in the event of a security concern. 

Modern IDaaS also offers companies the ability to easily move toward a Zero Trust architecture for their company, as most platforms are already set up to accommodate this model. 

Choose JumpCloud for Identity-as-a-Service 

Choosing the right IDaaS platform can be a challenging project for IT admins. If you’re ready to step forward with a partner that will take you through every step of the process, drop us a note. We’d love to show you how JumpCloud’s capabilities meet and exceed all these requirements. Or, sign up for a free account and give it a try for yourself. It’s free to try for up to 10 users and 10 devices.

Molly Murphy

Molly Murphy is a Senior Content Writer at JumpCloud. A self-professed nerd, she loves working on the cutting edge of the latest IT tech. When she's not in the [remote] office, Molly loves traveling, rescuing animals, and growing her all together unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter.

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