By Ryan Squires Posted December 1, 2019
Setting up LDAP servers is a time-consuming process. There are many aspects of your infrastructure to integrate it with, including systems, applications, and in some cases even networking gear. Of course, making sure your LDAP server is highly available and secure represents another aspect of ongoing LDAP server management. With all that in mind, did you know that there’s such a thing as on-demand LDAP servers that are ready when you are?
Brief History of LDAP
LDAP, which stands for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, was designed as an alternative to the X.500 Directory Access Protocol (DAP) by our friend and advisor Tim Howes and his colleagues at the University of Michigan. This was a necessary development because many of the machines in use at the time were not powerful enough to run the X.500 protocol. Even though LDAP was introduced in 1993, it remains a foundational piece of IT infrastructure the world over. That’s why organizations are still standing up LDAP servers today or looking for on-demand LDAP servers to fulfill their authentication needs. But LDAP servers also perform an additional role.
Note: If you’d like to hear from one of the creators of LDAP, be sure to check out our interview with Tim Howes:
LDAP Server Roles
LDAP servers maintain valuable roles as stores of user records. But more often, an LDAP server is used to authenticate users to resources like applications. This use case for LDAP is particularly pertinent for DevOps teams where users leverage technical applications from vendors such as Atlassian®. The most common LDAP implementation is OpenLDAP™, but there are also many different vendors for LDAP servers you can read about here.
Because LDAP is a popular open-source solution, strong documentation and engaged online communities abound to help IT admins and DevOps engineers stand these servers up and utilize the protocol to its maximum potential.
Trouble With On-Prem Servers
Despite the strong community and thorough documentation, setting up LDAP servers is still a lengthy process with many variables outside of designing, deploying, and managing on-prem LDAP servers.
For example, you may need to set up additional LDAP servers for redundancy and load balancing considerations. If that’s the case, your setup time potentially doubles or triples. For many, this makes the idea of an on-demand LDAP server very appealing.
On-Demand LDAP Server
Cloud providers like JumpCloud® recognize these challenges and work to streamline the usage of LDAP as an authentication protocol. With an on-demand LDAP server – also known as Cloud LDAP or LDAP-as-a-Service – IT admins and DevOps engineers no longer find themselves on the hook for all the work that goes into maintaining on-prem LDAP servers.
Now, because LDAP authentication can be sourced as a cloud-based service, all the work traditionally associated with LDAP servers falls to a third-party team of dedicated LDAP experts. IT admins and DevOps engineers simply utilize the servers already set up around the globe and only pay for the amount of users that require LDAP authentication.
That means your LDAP server is only minutes away from authenticating users.
Ready to Try LDAP-as-a-Service Today?
While you may only need LDAP-as-a-Service, and there is a JumpCloud offering for single protocol usage, we also offer system management, RADIUS-as-a-Service, SSO, and a whole lot more. Sign up today and see all that JumpCloud has to offer. Your first 10 users are free forever.