Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) Competition

Written by Vince Lujan on March 22, 2018

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Microsoft Active Directory (AD) has been the dominant directory services platform for nearly twenty years now. However, as more IT resources shift to the cloud, more IT admins are interested in the Active Directory competition. The challenge is finding a comparable directory services platform in the cloud.

Fortunately, a powerful new cloud directory has come to market that is changing the game. We’ll discuss the benefits of this cloud-based identity management platform in this blog post. But first, we should outline a few of the challenges that have led IT admins to seek out Active Directory competitors.

A Brief History of Active Directory

Active Directory emerged in 1999, and quickly took the identity management market by storm. Of course, this made a lot of sense, given that IT networks were virtually all Windows-based and on-prem. Naturally, AD thrived in this type of environment.

Microsoft Active Directory Competition

Further, because of the way that Microsoft licensed Active Directory, it was effectively free for IT organizations leveraging Windows Server®, which most were. So, if you already had the appropriate licensing for Windows server, there was no reason not to use AD.

The other piece of AD that was brilliant was effectively the precursor to a concept that we refer to as True Single Sign-On™. In other words, a user could gain access to virtually all of their Windows-based IT resources by simply logging into their Windows-based system.

All of these characteristics made Active Directory one of the highest market share products for Microsoft. Yet, while massively successful in the early 2000s, that is no longer the case. In fact, the effectiveness of AD has been in decline since the mid-2000s, and today it needs much more help to be functional.

The Beginning of the End for Active Directory

The reasons for why we need Microsoft Active Directory Competition

The fall of AD began when web applications like Google Apps (a.k.a. G Suite™) began to chip away at Microsoft’s on-prem foundation. Then, IT organizations shifted their on-prem data center to the cloud with AWS®. Mac® and Linux® machines started to increase in popularity after that. Wired networks gave way to WiFi. Even Windows File Server was replaced with cheaper cloud and on-prem alternatives such as Box®, Samba file servers, and NAS appliances. While these solutions offered a number of advantages, the challenge was that Active Directory struggled to keep up.

That’s where you might have thought the Active Directory competition would step in. Interestingly, however, nobody wanted to take on AD because of how powerful and integrated it was within the organization. Instead, developers chose to create what were essentially add-on solutions designed to complement AD. These types of solutions would eventually become known as Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) offerings.

While IDaaS solutions have certainly been helpful, the main issue with them is that they cannot eliminate the on-prem Active Directory ball and chain. In fact, first generation IDaaS solutions actually make it more difficult for IT organizations to make their cloud-forward dreams into a reality. Finally, though, a new solution has come to market that can help manage virtually any IT resource from the cloud – regardless of platform, protocol, provider, or location. In fact, this cloud directory empowers IT admins with the ability to choose only the best systems, applications, files, and networks for the organization. It’s called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®, and it’s giving Active Directory a run for its money.

Next Generation Active Directory Competitor

JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is like Active Directory and LDAP reimagined for modern IT networks. We say this because the JumpCloud platform can also serve as the core identity provider for an organization. However, this cloud directory goes above and beyond the use cases of AD to help IT admins manage virtually any IT resource – all without anything on-prem and without the help of third party add-ons. The end result is that IT admins can finally enjoy a centralized identity and access management experience from the cloud.

Microsoft Active Directory Competition - JumpCloud

Learn More About Active Directory Competitors

Check out some of the following links for more information about various JumpCloud use cases.

You can also contact JumpCloud, schedule a demo, or sign up for a free Directory-as-a-Service account to learn more about Active Directory competition. Your first ten users are free forever, and we don’t even require a credit card to get started. The real question is, why are you still leveraging AD when it could be so much easier with JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service?

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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