JumpCloud versus Active Directory + Okta

Written by Zach DeMeyer on April 21, 2020

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Many IT organizations are looking to optimize their identity and access management (IAM) solution stack, often considering JumpCloud® versus a combination of Active Directory® and Okta® or some other single sign-on (SSO) tool. As admins shift their infrastructure to the cloud to accommodate a distributed workforce, comparing the two approaches makes sense.

AD’s Dominance and the Need for SSO

Historically, organizations leveraged Microsoft® Active Directory (AD) as their core identity provider. AD excels at connecting on-premises users to their on-prem Windows®-based IT resources.

In IT’s early days, most if not all of an organization’s IT resources fell inside of AD’s IAM wheelhouse. This led to the concept of the domain, a perimeter-defended safe haven where users inside the four walls of an office could securely access everything they needed to with a single identity.

As web applications and other resources emerged that existed outside of AD’s domain, IT admins started to look for solutions to leverage on top of AD to connect their users to those IT resources. Microsoft was slow to move on extending AD to web applications, but ultimately has done so with solutions such as AD FS and Azure® AD.

In the meantime, a large number of independent web application SSO vendors appeared on the market to fill the needs of organizations that needed to extend their AD credentials. Okta continues to stand out among these solutions, and often tops the list for organizations considering an SSO tool to bolster their AD instance.

A Cloud Transformation

Now, though, as IT organizations look to move their entire IT management infrastructure to the cloud, they wonder if a legacy IdP combined with a web application SSO solution is the right fit. For many businesses adopting a fully distributed work model, AD proves to be too cumbersome for managing remote users and resources.

A new generation of cloud identity management combines a number of IAM functions into a single solution. JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service® offers remote control over distributed employees, featuring:

  • Core directory services
  • Web application SSO
  • Cloud LDAP and RADIUS
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Device management
  • Auditing/governance

… and more, all serverless from the cloud.

In essence, by managing virtually every IT resource from the cloud, JumpCloud eliminates the concept of the domain altogether. This domainless approach to IAM forgoes the need for on-prem servers and expensive add-on solutions to AD, either enveloping AD as the ultimate add-on solution or removing AD from the picture entirely.

The quick comparison table below serves as a starting point to consider the differences between JumpCloud and a combination of Active Directory and a web application SSO solution.

Feature JumpCloud AD + Web App SSO
Authoritative Cloud Directory Yes No (on-prem AD is usually authoritative)
Cross-Platform System Management Yes No
Web App SSO Yes Yes
MFA Everywhere Yes (systems, apps, networks) Only for applications
Serverless WiFi & VPN Access Control Yes No
Eliminates On-Prem Hardware Yes No
Cost-Effective Learn More

Try JumpCloud Free

JumpCloud is free for the first 10 users of any organization. You can see how the platform will work for yours by signing up for an account and trying it yourself.

You can also schedule a personalized demo and get a tour of the product from one of our experts. Contact us to learn more.

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