Managed Cloud Directory: Azure Active Directory

Written by Jon Griffin on January 16, 2018

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The trend in modern IT is to move as much IT infrastructure to the cloud as possible. This means web applications, servers, and anything else that can be offloaded. As a result, many admins have started looking into the possibility of a cloud directory. Microsoft® has been promoting their Azure® Active Directory® (AAD) product a lot, and as a result many admins consider it to be the cloud version of Active Directory® (AD). But can Azure Active Directory truly function as a managed cloud directory? This is a common question for those looking at shifting their identity management infrastructure to the cloud, and the answer might not be what you expect.

Is Azure a Complete Managed Cloud Directory?

The simple answer to this question is no. A managed Azure Active Directory implementation is not a complete cloud directory, and it can not operate as a replacement to Active Directory. AAD is a core part of Microsoft’s strategy to shift their clients to the cloud, but the concept is more similar to being a user management system for Azure services and a web app SSO platform. This was confirmed by a Microsoft representative himself in a SpiceWorks thread.

The real architecture that Microsoft is pushing is an Active Directory installation on-prem, with Azure AD tacked on in the cloud. With this setup, as your Microsoft infrastructure shifts to Azure, your logins are seamlessly federated to Azure. This approach works well if you are going to be an all Microsoft organization. But if you aren’t, then this AD and Azure AD approach will be limiting to your organization.

Is There a True Managed Cloud Directory Option?

Does a Managed Cloud Directory exist?

Active Directory and Azure AD aren’t really designed to work with a wide range of IT resources. This puts organizations that utilize Mac and Linux systems, cloud infrastructure from AWS or Google Cloud Platform, productivity solutions such as G Suite, or a wide range of other solutions such as WiFi, Samba file servers, or other IT resources in a very tough spot.

As a result, modern IT organizations are taking a completely different approach to their infrastructure, and being tied to Microsoft lock, stock, and barrel isn’t one of them. The most common approach to avoid this Microsoft lock-in is shifting the identity provider to the cloud.

Called JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service®, this innovative cloud identity provider is emerging into the field as a favorite and is replacing Active Directory and Azure AD. As a modern, next generation directory service, the cloud directory is seamlessly connecting users to the IT resources they need, regardless of the platform, protocol, provider, or location. This means that admins can connect their users to systems (Mac, Windows, Linux), cloud and on-prem servers (AWS, GCE), web and local applications (via SAML, LDAP), virtual and physical storage (e.g. Samba, NAS storage devices), and WiFi (via RADIUS). There’s no vendor lock-in to worry about, there’s no additional on-prem infrastructure required, and there’s no additional set-up and maintenance costs. Directory-as-a-Service is the cloud-based directory for the modern IT world.

JumpCloud’s Managed Cloud Directory

The IT environment is moving to the cloud, and it’s time for the directory to catch up. See what you’re missing, and sign up for a free account of DaaS. We offer 10 users free forever, with no catch. We don’t even require a credit card. This way, you can test the platform to your heart’s content and see exactly how it works for you. If you have any questions about the platform, make sure you contact the JumpCloud team. We would be happy to address any concerns or thoughts that you have. Finally, if you want to see a live demo of the platform, you can find a sign up page here. Come see the directory of the future!

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