MSP Perspective: JumpCloud® or Active Directory®

Written by George Lattimore on February 2, 2019

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With the shifting IT landscape, MSPs are thinking through the best way to navigate their clients’ and their own businesses through the change. One area of interest is identity and access management (IAM), and MSPs are wondering if there’s actually a suitable cloud directory they can migrate their clients to, or if they should just continue using Active Directory®.

As a foundational element of every IT network, MSPs are looking to make the best decision for their clients and their business. So, which is better for IAM from an MSP Perspective: JumpCloud® or Active Directory®?

First, Why Identity Management?

Why is Identity management important for MSPs

Before diving into which solution is better—which obviously depends upon the client’s needs and the MSP’s expertise—we should discuss why MSPs should focus on identity management in the first place. In today’s IT environment, control over user access is one of the top priorities. User access applies to far more than just security, as IT is now seen as an enabler to growing companies. Increasing productivity for an organization’s workers is critical, and IT is charged with making that happen. And, the core mechanism that IT has to do that efficiently is through a directory service.

Historically, MSPs have leveraged a great deal of Microsoft® technology as their IT management tools infrastructure—largely because Microsoft Windows®-based systems and applications were at the core of their clients’ networks. The result was that Active Directory was most often the directory services implementation of choice. MSPs would deploy the identity provider on-prem on a Windows Server that likely served other purposes as well. For many Windows-focused organizations, this IAM setup worked well.

Challenged by the Cloud

Identity management from the cloud for MSPs

The challenges started to stack up as client organizations began requesting macOS® support, G Suite, AWS®, more cost-effective file servers (e.g. NAS appliances, Samba), WiFi networks, and much more. MSPs were then on the hook to help their clients take advantage of new, innovative technology, but their technology stack would hold them back. Managing non-Windows IT resources became a challenge for MSPs running AD at their client’s sites, increasing administrative complexity as well as the frequency of on-prem visits required. So, many MSPs would find add-ons such as identity bridges, web application single sign-on, privileged identity management, and much more, to fill the gap. Of course, this added costs to them and their clients, and left MSP technicians with more infrastructure to manage.

It’s not hard to see why so many client organizations are wanting to migrate to the cloud. One recent 2018 study measured companies that adopted cloud services as having a 21% average improvement in time to market, 19% average increase in process efficiency, and a 15% reduction in IT spending. Overall, these kinds of cloud benefits led to a 20% increase in company growth. Why wouldn’t clients want to leverage the cloud for a competitive advantage?

Comparing JumpCloud with Active Directory for IAM

Comparing JumpCloud or Active Directory

With so much of IT shifting to the cloud, innovative MSPs are looking to compare Active Directory vs JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service® platform to help solve these challenges with organizations looking to take advantage of the cloud. The good news is that MSPs don’t need to be beholden to on-prem IT management tools such as Active Directory, but can shift their identity management approach to the cloud.

As a cloud directory service, JumpCloud delivers MSPs with a comprehensive approach to centralized user management, cross-platform system management, True Single Sign-On™, cloud LDAP, hosted RADIUS, multi-factor authentication, and more. For MSPs interested in delivering mixed platform and provider solutions to their customers, having a neutral identity management solution can be tremendously advantageous. Furthermore, for Partners, access to the Multi-Tenant Portal is included, free of charge. This provides MSPs with an efficient way to manage multiple client organizations from a single, easy-to-navigate dashboard.

Learn More About Directory-as-a-Service for MSPs

If you’d like to check out the JumpCloud platform for yourself, go ahead and sign up for the platform. The first 10 users are permanently free, so you can see how Directory-as-a-Service operates firsthand. If you’re interested in becoming an official JumpCloud Partner, read through the reasons why hundreds of MSPs have partnered with JumpCloud for client identity management.

George Lattimore

George is a writer at JumpCloud, a central source for authenticating, authorizing, and managing your IT infrastructure through the cloud. With a degree in Marketing and an MS in Public Communications and Technology, George enjoys writing about how the IT landscape is adapting to a diversified field of technology.

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