Next Generation Active Directory Replacement

Written by Vince Lujan on February 13, 2018

Share This Article

Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) has been the source of truth for user identities since the turn of the century. Yet, its efficacy as an IT management platform has been in decline since the mid-2000s. That is why IT organizations worldwide are interested in a next generation Active Directory replacement.

In short, the next generation Active Directory replacement is called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®. However, in order to understand the benefits of this cloud identity and access management (CIAM) platform, let’s first discuss why modern IT organizations want to replace Active Directory to begin with.

Characteristics of Active Directory

Active Directory is an on-prem directory services platform designed to manage Microsoft Windows® based IT resources. It was first released in 1999. Networks looked a lot different, at the time. For example, IT resources generally revolved around the Windows operating system, and just about everything was on-prem.

identity management active directory

Naturally, AD thrived in this type of environment. It was built for on-prem networks of Windows based IT resources. In fact, AD was the only IT management tool required for a few years around Y2K. It was nice while it lasted.

The IT landscape started to change in the mid-2000s as IT resources began to shift to the cloud. Web applications like Salesforce led the way. Cloud productivity platforms like Google Apps (a.k.a. G Suite) arrived shortly thereafter. Then came Infrastructure-as-a-Service solutions like AWS, GCP, and more.

Active Directory fails in the cloud

While the cloud has certainly introduced a wide variety of innovative solutions, one characteristic they all have in common is they cannot be bound to a traditional domain. This has been an issue for IT admins because Active Directory doesn’t work that way. IT resources must be directly bound to the AD domain controller for authentication to take place. Any IT resource that doesn’t follow these rules can only be managed with AD with the help of third-party tools.

Modern IT admins are well aware of these limitations with Active Directory. They also know that so called Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) add-ons, such as web application single sign on (SSO), are available to mitigate these limitations. However, even savvy IT admins will tell you the add-on approach isn’t enough to manage modern IT networks.

The bottom line is that any solution that requires Active Directory on-prem is doomed to struggle with modern, cloud-based resources. What IT admins really need is a next generation Active Directory replacement. The good news is that a next generation Active Directory replacement has emerged. It’s called JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service.

Characteristics of Directory-as-a-Service

JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is effectively Active Directory and LDAP reimagined. JumpCloud securely manages and connects users to their systems, applications, files, and networks. What sets the JumpCloud platform apart is that it goes above and beyond the native capabilities of AD to provide a far more holistic approach to IT management.


For example, JumpCloud manages users and their systems (e.g. Linux, Mac, Windows), while simultaneously providing access to cloud and on-prem resources such as Office 365, G Suite, AWS, Salesforce, and Jira®. The same login also links users to networks via RADIUS, file shares via Samba, and more.

These are only some of the resources that integrate with the JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service platform. You can find a more complete index of JumpCloud’s functionality here. However, the key point to remember is that by leveraging cloud-based directory services, IT organizations can choose the best resources for the business – without being locked into the Microsoft ecosystem on-prem. JumpCloud is truly a next generation CIAM platform.

Learn More About Replacing Active Directory

Get Started and Learn more about JumpCloud

The Rock Island-Milan School District has already taken advantage of our next generation Active Directory replacement. Mike MacKenna, Infrastructure and Security Administrator, told us he could not be happier.

“The simplicity that JumpCloud offers has really been the time saver,” MacKenna told us. “We’re not dealing with constantly looking at replication…and all this other stuff we had to deal with in order to maintain our Active Directory implementation. That frees us up to do things that we really want to do.”

Check out the Rock Island case study for more information. You can also contact the JumpCloud team, schedule a demo, or sign up for a Directory-as-a-Service account to see a next generation Active Directory replacement in action. Your first ten users are free forever to help you discover the benefits of a our comprehensive cloud based directory service platform at no cost. You don’t even have to enter a credit card to get started today.

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.

Continue Learning with our Newsletter