By Vince Lujan Posted May 21, 2018
Identity management is becoming one of the hottest markets in the IT space, which is interesting because the identity and access management (IAM) category has historically been controlled by one major player for many years. Recently, though, there has been an explosion of identity management competition in the cloud. These next-generation solutions offer a variety of advantages over legacy alternatives. We’ll discuss a few of those advantages in this blog, but let’s take a look at how the identity management competition has changed through the years.
A Brief History of Identity Management
The identity management story begins in the early 1990s, with the advent of LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol). According to OpenLDAP.org, LDAP is a subset of X.500 protocols, the identity management solution that LDAP replaced, which are used for accessing information directories in a far more efficient manner. This critical breakthrough laid the foundation that subsequent identity management platforms such as OpenLDAP™ and Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) used to create their groundbreaking products.
Active Directory has remained the core identity management solution in most enterprises for many years now, while OpenLDAP has largely remained a niche solution for data center implementations. Of course, this makes a lot of sense because enterprise networks have traditionally revolved around the Microsoft Windows® operating system and were also on-prem. In other words, it was common for all of the systems, applications, files, and networks in an IT environment to be Windows-based and located somewhere on-site. The result was that AD had a built in advantage in controlling user access.
The dominance of Windows and Active Directory also meant that the identity management competition was limited to fringe areas for many years. Consider Mac® and Linux® systems and servers, for example. These non-Windows platforms were difficult to manage directly with AD. As a result, third-party identity bridges were created to extend AD to Mac and Linux endpoints. Web applications are another easy example. These cloud-based applications and services weren’t on-prem or based on Windows either, and they were also difficult to manage with AD. As a result, web application single sign-on (SSO) providers came to market.
This add-on, directory extension approach was certainly effective for extending AD to a small number of non-Windows IT resources. However, the identity management world changed dramatically when Google Apps (now called G Suite™) and AWS® were introduced. Google Apps and AWS enabled smaller organizations to leave Windows and AD behind completely and jump to the cloud. At the same time, Mac and Linux machines also became more popular. Then came non-Windows storage systems like Samba and NAS devices, or cloud storage options like Google Drive™ and Dropbox™. Even the network itself shifted from a wired connection to wireless via WiFi. These shifts and others would cause IT organizations to rethink their identity management strategy and approach. In short, they came to the realization that patching AD every time a new category of IT resource was adopted into the workplace was no longer sustainable.
The Future of Identity Management
Rather than continuing to implement a wide variety of independent identity management solutions on top of AD, including web app SSOs, privileged identity management, directory extensions, multi-factor authentication (MFA), and more, many IT organizations began looking at the identity management competition for a better approach. One identity management competitor in particular stood out for IT admins. Called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®, this next generation cloud identity management platform securely manages and connects users to their systems, applications, files, and networks too. However, the JumpCloud platform goes above and beyond the use cases of AD with it’s cross-platform, vendor neutral, protocol driven approach to managing IT resources in the cloud and on-prem. As a result, IT admins can once again leverage a single identity management solution that cuts across their entire network. This time, however, IT admins are free to choose the best IT resources for the organization rather than having their hand forced by Microsoft’s lock-in strategy – and, they get this control entirely from the cloud.
Learn More About Identity Management Competition
Sign up for a free account or schedule a demo to see the JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service platform in action. We offer 10 free users to help you explore the full functionality of our platform at no cost. Otherwise, contact the JumpCloud team to learn more about the identity management competition today.