By Zach DeMeyer Posted October 17, 2018
Change is the impetus for innovation in every industry. Once organizations reimagine the archaic ways of operating, they open themselves up to innovative advancements that put them on the cutting edge. While this thought may seem rudimentary, the market for identity providers (IdPs) remains stagnant. Luckily, as the IT realm shifts towards the cloud, admins are beginning to question the functionality of traditional IdPs and are looking for a next generation identity provider.
What is an Identity Provider?
The purpose of an identity provider is to provision users with a centralized identity. The IdP contains every user’s identity in a manageable database where IT admins can collect each user’s personal data to build a unified identity for each member within their organization. That identity can then be used to define what resources that user can access. This functionality makes the identity provider a crucial component of any company’s IT operation.
For many of today’s IT organizations, the traditional IdP of choice has been Microsoft® Active Directory®(MAD or AD). Given MAD’s sheer dominance of the IT scene, its current position in the market makes sense. When it was first introduced nearly two decades ago, MAD took the IT world by storm thanks to the fact that the workplace was almost entirely Windows®-based. MAD’s work as an IdP was made easy since it only had to communicate with the OS it was designed for.
Innovations in the IT Space
It wasn’t long, however, until the winds of change began to blow for MAD. Innovations began to appear in IT, including notable novelties like Software-as-a-Service resources like Salesforce, upticks in Mac® and Linux®machine usage, and, most importantly, the debut of the cloud. Locked on-prem and tethered to Windows, MAD’s usefulness in the face of these new approaches to IT came into question.
In spite of its now questionable functionality, however, admins continued to leverage the legacy identity provider as best they could in the face of a changing industry. Armed with new tools, called Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) or web-app single sign-on (SSO) solutions, IT organizations attempted to bridge the gap between a grounded AD instance and the open plains of the cloud. While these solutions worked for the time being, they brought their own drawbacks. Managing an abundance of different SSO, identity bridges, and other similar tools presented a headache for admins to handle in their day-to-day lives. On top of that, by using MAD, admins denied themselves the ingenuity that comes with the upheaval of the past.
A Next Generation Identity Provider
It’s clear that a new approach to the identity provider is necessary. Some have tried simply leveraging solely an SSO solution as their IdP, but the approach breaks down when considering system and on-prem app management. Others have tried forgoing the IdP altogether, and have been met with their own host of issues. It’s clear that IT organizations need an option that can reflect the functionality of MAD, but is better suited for the innovations of the modern age.
Thankfully, such a solution exists, in the form of JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®. JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service takes the traditional approach to the identity provider and offloads it to the cloud, offering remote endpoint management for fleets of any system type, be it Windows, Mac, or Linux. The Directory-as-a-Service product also acts as a next generation IDaaS, providing a True Single Sign-On™ experience for end users by leveraging one unified identity for all an employee’s resources, regardless of platform, provider, protocol, or location.
To learn more about Directory-as-a-Service, the next generation identity provider, check out our YouTube channel, or contact us with questions. You can see the product in full by scheduling a demo. As always, consider signing up for a free JumpCloud account. Signing up gives you complete control over the platform for up to ten users forever.