Linux® Identity and Access Management

Written by Vince Lujan on May 24, 2018

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Linux® identity and access management (IAM) can be challenging in modern IT organizations. It used to be that Linux systems and servers were such a small fraction of enterprise networks that IT could effectively manage them independently. Now, Linux servers run ninety percent of the public cloud (according to The Linux Foundation) and Linux desktop systems are steadily gaining popularity in the workplace, both on-prem and remote. As a result, IT needs a better approach to managing Linux systems and their users.

Why Does IT Need A Better Approach to Managing Linux?

The need for better Linux Identity and Access Management

To understand why IT needs a better approach to managing Linux, we need to discuss how Linux users and systems fit into the identity and access management space as a whole. Prior to the year 2000, IT networks were predominantly on-prem and based on the Microsoft® Windows® operating system (OS). In fact, it was common for all of the users, systems, applications, files, and the network itself to revolve around the Windows OS. This enabled IT to leverage Microsoft tools such as SCCM® (formerly SMS) and Active Directory® (AD) to effectively manage all of the users and IT resources in a given environment. As a result, IT didn’t need to worry about managing Linux users and systems because they were such a small portion of the overall network (if present at all) that IT could get away with managing Linux manually or with configuration automation tools such as Chef, Puppet, Ansible, or Salt.

However, the IT landscape started to change in the mid-2000s as macOS® and Linux-based systems and servers became popular Windows alternatives. Then came web applications like Salesforce® and Google Apps (now called G Suite™) that could replace on-prem, Windows-based applications. Samba file servers and NAS appliances gained popularity soon after that, as did cloud storage alternatives such as Dropbox™ and Google Drive™. Yet, perhaps the biggest change of them all was the introduction of cloud infrastructure at AWS®, which enabled IT organizations to shift their entire data center to the cloud. All of these non-Windows IT resources were (and still are) difficult to manage directly with traditional Microsoft tools. At the same time, traditional Microsoft tools have remained the core IT management solutions in many modern organizations. IT admins have had enough of trying to make antiquated tools work for modern IT environments. As a result, IT is now looking for a better approach to identity and access management in general. And with the widespread adoption of Linux servers in the cloud and Linux desktops, both on-prem and remote, IT simply cannot continue to manage Linux users and systems independently. Thus, Linux identity and access management has become a critical factor to consider as IT organizations look for next generation identity and access management solutions.


Securely connect to any resource using Google Workspace and JumpCloud.

The Future of Linux Identity and Access Management

Linux MFA

Fortunately, a next generation identity and access management platform has emerged that offers Linux IAM as a cloud-based service. Called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®, this next generation solution can securely manage and connect users to systems (e.g., Linux, macOS, Windows), web and on-prem applications via SAML and LDAP, cloud and on-prem storage solutions such as Dropbox and Samba file servers, and even networks via RADIUS. In fact, JumpCloud has taken a cross-platform, vendor neutral, protocol driven approach to managing virtually any IT resource. As a result, IT organizations are empowered with centralized identity and access management capabilities that cut across the entire network via one comprehensive cloud directory.

Learn More about Linux IAM

Sign up for a free account or schedule a demo to discover how Linux identity and access management with JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service can benefit your organization. We offer 10 free users to help you explore the full functionality of our platform for free. You can also check out the following tutorial to learn more about Linux user management with the JumpCloud platform or contact the JumpCloud team if you have any questions.

Vince Lujan

Vince is a writer and video specialist at JumpCloud. Originally from the horse capital of New Mexico, Corrales, he has lived in Boulder, Colorado for three years. When Vince is not developing content for JumpCloud, he can usually be found at the Boulder Creek.

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