One Identity for Both Office 365™ and G Suite™

Written by Katelyn McWilliams on September 7, 2018

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In the modern age, many organizations are now leveraging both Google’s G Suite™ and Microsoft® Office 365™. One may initially doubt the plausibility of this. After all, aren’t Google and Microsoft natural born enemies? Well, they are, but organizations don’t care about the competition between Google and Microsoft. What they do care about is providing their users with the productivity suite that most effectively handles their workload. Sometimes achieving that even means using both G Suite and Office 365. In the cases where both platforms are utilized, IT admins can’t help but wonder if it’s possible for their users to leverage one identity for both Office 365 and G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps).

The answer is, yes, you can have one identity for both, however, it hasn’t always been the easiest solution. The good news is, though, now there is a simple, straight forward way to have one identity for both G Suite and O365.

Challenges with Unifying Office 365 and G Suite Identities

Cloud identity management

Taking a step back, using both G Suite and Office 365 for productivity platforms actually makes a great deal of sense. Both are shifting core components of an enterprise’s productivity infrastructure to the cloud. They’re individually aiming to replace on-prem Microsoft Office, Exchange, and Windows File Server with cloud-based solutions. While they’re going about the same task (both providing email, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.,), they’re handling it differently which makes organizations often compare and contrast the two solutions.

The main hiccup is coming from the fact that G Suite Directory (G Suite’s native user management tool) isn’t too keen on sharing their identities with Azure AD (Office 365’s user management system) and vise versa, for obvious reasons.

Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Many organizations initially shifted to G Suite due to the fact that, at the time, Microsoft didn’t have a cloud platform. Not to mention, utilizing G Suite was much more cost-effective than leveraging Microsoft Exchange®, Office, and a Windows Server. Even those who didn’t make the initial shift to G Suite, now value the usability of G Suite’s features such as email, meetings, and other easy-to-use collaborative features.

On the flip side, Microsoft Office has been the on-prem market leading productivity platform, so many professionals have decades of experience using Microsoft’s productivity tools. Microsoft’s tools tend to be more robust, fully-featured offerings when compared to G Suite. So it makes a great deal of sense for IT organizations to have some Office 365 accounts within their environment.

But since only certain members of the organization likely need Office 365, and since G Suite is more cost-effective, the ideal solution is often to leverage both platforms under one roof. So many organizations may have parts of their organization on Office 365, some users on G Suite, and other users on both, depending on what their users need. For example, the Burgmann Anglican School decided to stay with Office 365 for email, but allows faculty as well as students freedom of choice between the two productivity suites for other services. “Our rationale was Google Docs, Sheets, and Presentations are apps similar to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The key point is having a choice.”

Shifting to the Cloud

user management

Regardless of the specifics, it is clear that many organizations are choosing both Office 365 and G Suite. While these organizations are making the leap to the cloud, one challenge is how to shift to cloud identity management. Historically, IT organizations have used Microsoft Active Directory® on-prem, but that was in conjunction with Exchange and other on-prem Microsoft tools. With those shifting to G Suite and Office 365, these IT organizations are wondering why their identity provider can’t make the leap as well.

With solutions such as Google Cloud Identity and Azure® Active Directory, both Google and Microsoft want you to shift to their walled garden version of identity management. These solutions are effectively user management platforms for their own respective services and a few web-based applications. They are both hardly replacements for Active Directory.

One Identity Through Directory-as-a-Service®

For those organizations that are looking for one identity for both Office 365 and G Suite, there is a third party cloud identity management solution that fits the bill. Called Directory-as-a-Service®, this cloud directory leverages one identity across virtually all IT resources including systems, applications, files, and networks regardless of platform, protocol, provider, and location.

JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service is the companion solution to G Suite and Office 365 that moves directory services to the cloud. As a virtual identity provider, JumpCloud integrates with Windows, macOS®, and Linux® systems, cloud or on-prem applications, and networks. The result is that IT organizations can connect to G Suite and Office 365, AWS® and Google Cloud Platform™, Dropbox™ and Box™, Samba file servers and NAS appliances, as well as wired and WiFi networks with RADIUS-as-a-Service. One cloud identity can also be used across Windows, macOS, and Linux systems too. The value of one identity across virtually all IT resources can be compelling as it saves time and money for IT admins, while enabling end users with a frictionless workflow.

If your organization is ready to implement one identity for both Office 365 and G Suite, go ahead and sign up for a free account. Your first ten users are free forever. Like to see the product in action? You can schedule a demo here or reach out to our customer success team.

Katelyn McWilliams

Kate is a Content Writer at JumpCloud. She moved to Boulder, Colorado from Seattle in 2017 with experience in marketing for IT under her belt. When she isn't writing about tech, she enjoys rock climbing and petting every dog in sight.

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