Office 365 (O365) and Active Directory

By Rajat Bhargava Posted July 27, 2016

As more organizations migrate to the cloud with Microsoft® Office 365™, there is a growing curiosity about how that works with Active Directory®.

Historically, much of the Microsoft stack has lived on-prem. Microsoft Exchange® has been the email server of choice for many years, thanks in large part to its tight integration with Active Directory. Exchange and AD were two of the largest market share products at Microsoft. With the addition of the Microsoft Office® suite for devices, everything was within the IT admin’s control.

Setting A New Stage For IT Infrastructure


Now, the cloud and a number of other technologies have changed the landscape. Exchange has largely moved to the cloud in the form of Google Apps for Work or Office 365. The Office suite for devices still exists, but the licensing model has changed to O365.

Other solutions, such as AWS®, and different device platforms, such as Mac OS X and Linux, have also emerged.

Taken all together, IT admins are facing a very different future than the world they are accustomed to. IT infrastructure will be heterogeneous, multi-protocol, and located all around the world.

Spotlight On Directory Services


An area where that will cause significant change is in directory services. Active Directory used to be the only relevant choice for IT admins. However, with the move to the cloud and the introduction of new platforms, that’s no longer the case.

IT admins have to contend with IT resources located in the cloud, new platforms, web applications, remote workers, security challenges, and more. AD is no longer a safe decision. In fact, AD may not manage much of an organization’s network even with the move to O365. The question for IT becomes, how should we think about the problem in a post on-prem, O365 world?

Compatibility with O365 and AD

icon-active-directory-office 365

While Exchange and AD were the dynamic duo, that is not the case with O365 and AD. In fact, using both solutions forces you to have one foot in the cloud and one foot on-prem. That is not a favorable situation for most IT organizations.

Additionally, with the ability to shift to Mac® and Linux® devices, AD on-prem makes less sense because organizations have fewer Windows devices. If AWS or G Suite are in use, then it further exacerbates the issue. The better approach is to look for a cloud-based directory service that is cross-platform, multi-protocol, and location agnostic.

JumpCloud® and Office 365 Steal The Show

The JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® platform integrates tightly with Office 365 and eliminates the need for Active Directory. In fact, it enables organizations to fully make the move to the cloud with no on-premises requirements.

JumpCloud directory-as-a-service

Organizations that are leveraging O365 and Active Directory can now eliminate the part of that equation that is restraining them. If you would like to learn more about how JumpCloud’s unified cloud directory can complement your move to the cloud with O365, drop us a note. Please feel free to give our Identity-as-a-Service platform a try for yourself. Your first 10 users are free forever.

Rajat Bhargava

Rajat Bhargava is co-founder and CEO of JumpCloud, the first Directory-as-a-Service (DaaS). JumpCloud securely connects and manages employees, their devices and IT applications. An MIT graduate with two decades of experience in industries including cloud, security, networking and IT, Rajat is an eight-time entrepreneur with five exits including two IPOs, three trade sales and three companies still private.

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