By Zach DeMeyer Posted July 27, 2018
Microservices have become one of the hottest trends in the IT sector. The uptick in microservices in the world of IT makes sense based on the assortment of individual benefits that they can provide. Recently, however, IT organizations are taking a much broader view of microservices and applying them to their entire infrastructure, including the field of identity and access management. While it used to be considered something unthinkable, the concept of identity management as a microservice doesn’t seem far fetched anymore.
Microservices: A History
Historically, the concept of user identity authentication was delivered by core solutions within the infrastructure, called directory services. These solutions would authenticate users to the network, and then as they needed to access various IT resources, those IT resources would validate whether they could access the resource or not. This concept of identity management was delivered by solutions such as Microsoft® Active Directory® and OpenLDAP™. These solutions were located on-prem and were homogenous, either to a platform (Windows®) or a protocol (LDAP).
As the IT landscape has shifted to the cloud, the traditional approach to identity management, primarily with Active Directory, began breaking down. With Mac® and Linux® systems, AWS® cloud servers, G Suite™ and Office 365™, SaaS apps, WiFi, and more, Active Directory has struggled to connect users to these non-Windows IT resources.
That’s when microservices came in. The smorgasbord of cloud-based IT resource options that flooded the market were followed by web-application SSO solutions, which could operate in a lightweight, autonomous fashion to connect users to the new web resources. Development and operations teams began to work together, forming DevOps and using Agile to create other microservices with service-oriented architecture (SOA).
The Usefulness of Microservices
Generally, the concept of microservices means a solution that is easy to integrate within an IT infrastructure and other systems. IT admins can leverage microservices ideally through API calls or standard approaches. As more and more systems have moved towards being API driven, the concept of microservices doesn’t need to just be applied to on-prem functions, but can also include third party services. A great example of a non-internal, third party microservice that is gaining popularity among organizations is Stripe, a credit card processing service.
As IT organizations drive further to focus on their core competencies, it’s understandable that more IT management solutions are being leveraged as microservices. So, the concept of authentication services is an interesting one to consider as a microservice. With the shift of the IT industry away from AD to the cloud, a cloud authentication microservice starts to make a great deal of sense. If virtually any IT resource could authenticate against a cloud service in order to grant access, regardless of platform, protocol, provider, or location, it could be a way for IT organizations to centralize their identity management infrastructure.
Identity Management as a Microservice
This concept of identity management as a microservice is embodied in JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®. JumpCloud securely manages and connects users to their IT resources, while giving IT admins centralized control over their authentication services. Although its offerings seems similar to what Active Directory provides to an organization, Directory-as-a-Service is platform-agnostic, and can be accessed remotely, thanks to its cloud-based nature.
Interested in leveraging identity management as a microservice with JumpCloud? Try it for free to manage and authorize up to ten users forever, and then pay as you need more users. To learn more, check out some of our other blogs or contact our support experts.