How to Manage Users in G Suite for Education

Written by Megan Anderson on December 31, 2019

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G Suite for Education™ is a valuable tool that provides students and faculty with the productivity resources they need without gouging their budgets. It includes the entire G Suite™ collection of applications along with Google Classroom™, which streamlines file sharing (assignments and grades) between students and teachers. While G Suite for Education represents a critical tool for student and faculty success, no proper way to manage user profiles holistically quickly leads to endless headaches for IT. Here are a few methods for managing users in G Suite for Education.

Traditional Methods for Managing Users

Traditionally, Active Directory is the default method for managing users in any organization. Introduced at a time when more than 90% of the PC market was owned by Microsoft, and nearly all operations were conducted on-prem, AD quickly found a seat at the core of most organizations’ IT infrastructure. It fit comfortably into the IT landscape at the time and provided unmatched user management capabilities.

However, AD has a slightly different reputation today. Its strength in managing a Windows®-only, on-prem environment became its Achilles heel amidst mass migration to the cloud. Organizations are finding greater business value in non-Windows solutions, too, endangering the homogenous environment AD thrives in. This is especially true for educational institutions, which frequently lack resources for on-prem server maintenance. With institutions shifting their IT environments to Chromebooks® and macOS® over Windows platforms as well, the problem is exacerbated.

As such, the following are two common methods for managing G Suite users.

With Active Directory

To accommodate for recent technological developments, admins often layer additional tools on top of AD. Firstly, admins need to spin up a Google Cloud Directory Sync (GCDS) server to connect AD to G Suite. The admin is then responsible for all uptime and availability tasks, securing the system, and keeping a stable connection between G Suite and AD. Once that’s complete, other matters need tending to.

For example, many organizations want to tie WiFi access to a user’s core credentials, necessitating a bridge between WiFi and AD via RADIUS — and thus another on-prem server. This creates even more infrastructure to manage and significant integration work. On top of that, there are issues such as web application single sign-on (SSO) that AD doesn’t cover. Yet another add-on required.

To address all of an educational institution’s IT needs surrounding identity management and control, an assortment of tools must be added to and managed individually. While this can be accomplished, it takes away from more productive activities, not to mention additional costs. Other aspects of their school’s technology could be improved upon (i.e. implementing interactive instructional devices), but new equipment can’t be thoroughly researched while managing staff and student access to IT resources through disparate tools.

With the G Suite Interface

The alternative to managing G Suite users with AD is to manage users through the G Suite interface. Keep in mind, however, that it’s less robust than dedicated management tools, and deals only with G Suite applications. The only system it can manage is Chromebook, so a separate service will be needed for Windows and other systems (macOS and Linux).

Ultimately, both solutions breed inefficiency by requiring one addition on top of another. The more capabilities an admin can leverage from one platform, the more time they have left in their day to work on high value projects. Modern solutions for managing G Suite users integrate with G Suite through the cloud without the need for on-prem servers, and allows users to access their resources efficiently.

Modern User Management Solutions

As educational institutions shift to modern, flexible, and affordable IT solutions in the cloud, they should look for user management tools of the same caliber. JumpCloud® provides directory-level integration with G Suite for Education, allowing IT admins to import all of their existing Google user accounts into JumpCloud’s cloud-based directory with a few clicks. Once imported, IT admins can simply manage user access to G Suite and other applications as appropriate from one web-based console.

Benefits of Integrating G Suite for Education

Educational institutions can manage, provision, and de-provision G Suite users centrally in a cloud-based directory service. There’s no need for on-prem infrastructure unless absolutely necessary. For many, this means that on-prem RADIUS, LDAP, and solutions such as Active Directory are no longer needed.

Separate SSO applications aren’t needed either, as JumpCloud’s web application SSO functionality extends users’ identities to non-Google applications. Admins save significant time with onboarding, offboarding, and resetting passwords as a result. 

Learn More

JumpCloud offers a special discount for educational institutions. Read one of our case studies to learn how the sysadmins of other schools have benefited from making the leap to JumpCloud or reach out to one of our technical specialists today for a free one-on-one demo.

Megan Anderson

Megan is a content writer at JumpCloud with a B.A. in English from MSU Denver. Colorado-born and raised, she enjoys hiking, skiing, and all manner of dogs.

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