Managed Identities

Written by Jon Griffin on January 29, 2018

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While at surface level it may seem like a simple task, controlling and securing identities can actually become quite a significant responsibility. Historically, IT organizations have leveraged the on-prem solution Microsoft Active Directory® (AD) as their identity provider. But now, in the modern era of cloud forward IT organizations, a managed identity platform is replacing AD. This may seem like a sudden transition, but when you look closely at the IT landscape, it’s easy to see why it’s occurring.

Active Directory and Traditional IT

old office

Active Directory emerged in 1999 and very quickly became the de facto standard in the identity management space. With it, IT admins could centralize their identities within AD and then enable end users to access the Windows resources they needed. It was a powerful tool that gave a great level of control to admins.

The key to this approach was that it was predicated on an on-prem IT network. This meant hosting AD on-prem, as well as having all of the IT resources on-prem or connected to Active Directory via VPN. In the early 2000s, that was not an uncommon IT environment. As a result, IT admins spent a good amount of time implementing and managing this legacy approach to identity management.

Active Directory and Modern IT

Active Directory Server fail

For a while, as long as everything in the IT network remained Microsoft-based and on-prem, IT was happy. Employees could easily access their resources, and that access could easily be managed. However, as you might expect, this trend quickly changed. As web applications, cloud infrastructure, and Mac / Linux platforms emerged, the on-prem Active Directory approach to managing identities started to break down.

AD struggled with non-Microsoft IT resources, and as a result IT was forced to purchase additional solutions to fill in the gaps. This included identity bridges to connect to Mac and Linux machines, web application SSO platforms to connect to web apps, and more. Even with this multi-layer approach though, IT admins still were stuck manually managing identities to a wide range of solutions.

Managed Identities for Modern IT

identity manager

With this understanding of the IT environment, the reason a managed identity platform is taking over becomes clear. An identity and access management approach that relies upon on-prem Microsoft-based tools is untenable in a cloud forward organization. The idea of a managed identity provider has started to gain momentum, and it’s come from the JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service® platform.

This hosted solution enables IT to manage cloud, on-prem, and remote IT resources all with an identity that’s hosted in the cloud. The cloud-based directory securely manages identities while connecting them to systems (Windows, Mac, Linux), cloud and on-prem servers (e.g. AWS, GCP, on-prem data centers), web and on-prem applications (via LDAP and SAML), file servers such as Samba and NAS appliances, and wired and WiFi networks (via RADIUS).

A cloud solution enabling managed identities can step-up security and decrease the overhead of managing an identity management infrastructure.

Learn More About Managed Identities with JumpCloud

Get Started and Learn more about JumpCloud

The IT environment is moving away from Active Directory, and it’s time that the rest of the world does too. Sign up for a free account of the cloud-based directory, and see for yourself what you’ve been missing out on. We offer 10 users free forever, so it’s a risk free way to see the DaaS platform. If you have any questions about managed identities or the platform, you can also contact the JumpCloud team. We would be happy to hear your thoughts. Finally, if you would like to see a live demonstration of the product, you can sign up for a demo here. Then, you will be able to see a walkthrough of the product and ask questions at the same time. Sign up today!

Jon Griffin

Jon Griffin works as a writer for JumpCloud, an organization focused on bringing centralized IT to the modern organization. He graduated with a degree in Professional and Technical Writing from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and is an avid learner of new technology from cloud-based innovations to VR and more.

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