LDAP Is Dead. Long Live Cloud LDAP.

By Natalie Bluhm Posted March 22, 2019

With all of the new authentication protocols being released and utilized, it would seem that the traditional LDAP authentication protocol is dead. Interestingly, that is hardly the case.

LDAP is Still Very Much Alive

Although LDAP may not to be quite as popular as it once was, it is still a mainstay. LDAP is still often the protocol of choice for many open source technical solutions—think Docker, Kubernetes, Jenkins, and thousands of others. Also, because LDAP has been around for so long, many popular commercial applications also standardize around LDAP as their backend authentication protocol. Additionally, Linux® server authentication commonly leverages LDAP, usually through OpenLDAP™, as well.

In recent years, though, the identity and access management (IAM) landscape has seen a great deal of change, with protocols like SAML, OAuth, RADIUS, and others proliferating the IT landscape. These new protocols, though, don’t replace LDAP, but rather they were created as a way for other types of IT resources to be managed. For example, SAML and OAuth are used to manage user access to web applications, and RADIUS is used to manage authentication to network infrastructure. Since these new protocols don’t replace LDAP, it is still very much needed to authenticate open source technical solutions, Linux servers, and more. So, LDAP is still very much alive. The only difference is that many IT professionals are leveraging cloud LDAP as opposed to running their own on-prem LDAP infrastructure.

Why Cloud LDAP?

The challenge with traditional LDAP has always been the difficult implementation of the LDAP server, and the technical acumen required for effectively managing users and resources within a LDAP directory. The good news is that with cloud LDAP microservices, that has completely changed because it is easy to utilize, and offers flexible administration. IT admins simply point applications to the cloud LDAP solution and then manage user access to those LDAP-based IT resources. There’s no configuration, maintenance or management required for the LDAP solution. Next, flexible administration means IT admins with any level of experience can easily manage users and resources. They can comfortably make changes in the intuitive user interface (UI); for those who are savvy with the command line, scripting, and APIs, they can manage their environment using these methods.

Additionally, since most IT environments use so much more than just LDAP-based IT resources, this cloud LDAP provider also enables a user’s identity to be integrated across a variety of different protocols, not just LDAP. This includes SAML, RADIUS, Samba, SSH, and native integrations with Windows®, macOS®  and Linux systems among others—all from one identity provider.  

The days of leveraging resources based off of one protocol, platform, provider, or location are over. As such, modern, comprehensive identity providers will support a single identity across a wide range of IT resources, from any location. If an adaptive directory that offers cloud LDAP sounds intriguing, consider looking into JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®.

JumpCloud Offers Cloud LDAP and So Much More

JumpCloud is LDAP reimagined for the heterogeneous, cloud era. It is completely cloud-based, and delivers identity management as a service. In other words, it takes on the burden of maintaining, configuring, and securing the identity management platform, including the cloud infrastructure used for LDAP-as-a-Service. IT professionals are left with simply managing users and resources within our platform. Furthermore, our cloud directory service supports virtually all IT resources including systems (Windows, Mac, and Linux), local and cloud servers, legacy and web-based applications, physical and virtual file storage, and wired and wireless networks.

The end result is that IT admins are empowered with centralized user and system management and end users are delighted with frictionless access to everything they need to Make Work Happen™.

How to Learn More

Convinced that it’s not the case that LDAP is dead? Intrigued by the idea of cloud LDAP? Find out more by watching the video above that describes in detail how LDAP-as-a-Service works. You are also more than welcome to reach out to us with any questions, concerns, or comments you may have, and one of our product experts will get back to you shortly.  Of course, if you would like to get started with testing virtual LDAP, sign up for a free account. You won’t need a credit card, you’ll get ten users free forever, and you’ll have unlimited access to the platform.

Natalie Bluhm

Natalie is a writer for JumpCloud, an Identity and Access Management solution designed for the cloud era. Natalie graduated with a degree in professional and technical writing, and she loves learning about cloud infrastructure, identity security, and IT protocols.

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