Why Identity Management is Broken

Written by Zach DeMeyer on September 6, 2019

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Managing user identities has always been a chore for IT admins, but these days, traditional identity management practices are becoming more of a burden. While these processes are putting obvious stress on the lives of admins, they also place a stress on identity management as a whole, causing it to buckle and crack. Here’s why identity management is broken, and how you can fix it.

Traditional Identity Management Practices

Historically, identity management has been carried out by an identity provider (IdP). For many IT organizations, the IdP of choice was (and for many, still is) Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD). 

When it was first released around the turn of the century, Active Directory was the ideal identity management solution. The typical IT organization of the time was centered around Microsoft’s Windows® operating system, so using a Microsoft solution to manage Windows systems and applications simply made sense.

IT admins could use AD to manage their entire organization, and since it was the hub for identities, end users only needed a single set of AD credentials to access their system, network, applications, email, files, etc. Since every resource at the time fell under AD’s mantle, the concept of the Windows domain arose, with AD as its domain controller. For its time, AD was the best solution possible. 

Modern Identity Management

Unfortunately, that status has changed in the modern era. Like we said earlier, many organizations still rely on AD to carry out their identity management practices. Today’s IT environment, however, has shifted completely.


For starters, Windows, while still the highest in OS market share, is slipping from the lofty perch it once held. Mac® and Linux® systems are growing in popularity as more end users are choosing what devices they want to use, or even bringing their own to work. While it’s great managing devices in the Windows domain, AD has a much harder time managing non-domain devices and these struggles then propagate down to the IT admin who has to deal with the fallout.


Beyond systems, modern innovations have spread to applications and other areas of infrastructure. The cloud has revolutionized application delivery, sparking the meteoric rise of “as-a-Service” style vending. Everything from email and file servers to development environments and virtual machines can now be accessed anywhere in the world on any device from the cloud.

While these resources provide great boons to end users, they also add headaches for IT admins. Access to these cloud resources, much like with systems, needs to be tightly controlled thanks to an era plagued by identity compromise. Active Directory is generally an on-prem identity provider, however, so it has a hard time dealing with these apps and infrastructure as well.

Suboptimal Solutions

Because of these modern IT innovations, admins have had to reevaluate their identity management stack. Though Active Directory was once the most powerful tool in the IT admin’s belt, its power seems to have diminished. In order to remedy this, organizations have turned to additional vendors to pick up the slack.

Solutions like web application single sign-on (SSO) tools, identity bridges for non-domain systems, multi-factor authentication (MFA) providers, governance applications, and more have swarmed the market to help fill in identity management gaps. These point solutions have helped many IT organizations fill out their short-term identity management needs, but they come with some costs. 

The obvious one is the actual budgetary cost of each of these solutions. Monthly subscription fees can seem nominal, but the handfuls of tools required for AD’s struggles certainly adds up. In enterprises, these costs are often represented by large up-front annual or 3-year purchases, Beyond monetary costs, each solution requires its own level of implementation and configuration, adding overhead to IT organizations as well, including consultant/integrator professional servicing fees.

Fixing Broken Identity Management

Compared to how things used to be, identity management has clearly become broken in the modern era. What was once an all-inclusive, monolithic process has become as disparate as the resources which need to be managed. If only there was a way IT organizations could find a way to seamlessly manage their identities a la AD in its prime.

Thankfully, a solution exists to fix what has broken in identity management. A cloud directory service, the first in its class, has reimagined AD for the modern era. Modern problems demand modern solutions. That’s why today’s IT organizations use JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®.

Modern Identity Management with JumpCloud

JumpCloud enables IT admins to manage users and their access to virtually all IT resources, including systems, networks, applications, infrastructure, file servers, and more, regardless of their vendor or location. With JumpCloud, IT organizations centralize their identity management stack into a single, cloud-based solution, completely replacing Active Directory altogether.

As an alternative for organizations who are heavily vested in Active Directory, JumpCloud can be the ultimate “add-on” solution to extend AD to non-domain resources/the cloud. Using JumpCloud’s Active Directory Integration feature, admins can sync their AD instance with JumpCloud, which then propagates AD identities to the various resources managed by JumpCloud.

Try JumpCloud Free

If you’re fed up with broken identity management, consider trying JumpCloud for your IdP. You can explore everything JumpCloud has to offer by signing up for Directory-as-a-Service. Your JumpCloud account is completely free, with ten users included forever to get you started.

Hungry for more information? Contact us with your questions, or check out our YouTube channel for video content.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a Product Marketing Specialist at JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, music, and soccer.

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