By Vince Lujan Posted December 26, 2017
OpenLDAP™ is a free implementation of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). As an open source solution, OpenLDAP has provided technical personnel with the ability to integrate and customize the platform to suit their organization’s specific needs since the late 1990’s. Today, with so many solutions being delivered from the cloud, IT admins often wonder if OpenLDAP as a service is available.
The short answer is that LDAP-as-a-Service is a core component of the JumpCloud platform, but before we describe how OpenLDAP as a service can benefit modern organizations, we must first outline why IT organizations want a hosted OpenLDAP solution to begin with.
OpenLDAP as an Obligation
It all began when our advisor, Tim Howes, and his colleagues at The University of Michigan created the LDAP protocol in 1993 as a means of securing decentralized IT. It was a time when Microsoft owned just about every corner of the IT market and everything was on-prem.
Two core solutions would eventually be derived from LDAP. The first, of course, was OpenLDAP. The other followed shortly thereafter from Microsoft, which combined LDAP and Kerberos, and was called Active Directory®.
Active Directory would go on to become the most dominant directory service platform for many years, due primarily to the fact that Windows-based IT solutions were already dominating the enterprise space. However, OpenLDAP was also highly successful where Linux or different flavors of Unix were in use, like in data center implementations.
OpenLDAP had the benefit of being highly flexible in that it could connect with just about anything leveraging the LDAP protocol (i.e. systems, servers, storage devices, applications). Adding LDAP authentication with OpenLDAP was also relatively straightforward for non-Windows based IT resources. The result was that IT admins and DevOps engineers would often add an OpenLDAP instance to assist with managing user access to their technical infrastructure.
The challenge with OpenLDAP has always been that it is difficult to implement and maintain – often requiring a high level of technical expertise, time, and maintenance to function properly. IT organizations often need highly technical personnel dedicated to maintaining the OpenLDAP infrastructure because if OpenLDAP goes down, users cannot authenticate and gain access to their resources.
Of course, IT organizations didn’t have much of a choice but to hire dedicated personnel to maintain their infrastructure. Prior to the cloud, the only other option would have been to implement Active Directory, which was more expensive and still required highly technical personnel to maintain. So as the world shifts to solutions delivered as a service, organizations all over the world are looking to ditch their aging on-prem infrastructure in favor of an OpenLDAP as a service alternative – which brings us to today.
Fortunately, a new generation of hosted LDAP solution has emerged from JumpCloud that offers what essentially amounts to OpenLDAP as a service. We call it Directory-as-a-Service®, which is effectively Active Directory and LDAP reimagined for the cloud era.
In short, JumpCloud’s LDAP-as-a-Service delivers all of the benefits of OpenLDAP without the heavy lifting of having to install, configure, and maintain a similar OpenLDAP infrastructure on-prem. IT organizations simply point their LDAP bound resources at the JumpCloud managed LDAP server and Directory-as-a-Service takes care of the rest.
Check out the following whiteboard presentation for an in-depth description regarding how JumpCloud’s LDAP-as-a-Service works:
Learn More about OpenLDAP as a Service
Contact a member of the JumpCloud team to learn more about how you can achieve the functionality of OpenLDAP “as a service” with JumpCloud. You can also sign up today and get full access to the Directory-as-a-Service platform. Your first ten users are free forever to help you explore the full functionality of our platform at no cost.