Overview of Cloud LDAP

By Zach DeMeyer Posted January 31, 2019

Hosted Cloud LDAP

IT organizations are shifting a great deal of their infrastructure to the cloud. Along with leveraging cloud infrastructure from AWS® and productivity platforms such as G Suite™ and Office 365™, IT admins and MSPs are looking to shift their identity management infrastructure cloudward as well. While the whole category has been heating up, a key facet revolves around directory services platforms and protocols, including LDAP. For those considering shifting to the cloud, here’s an overview of cloud LDAP.

What is LDAP?

What is LDAP

LDAP (which stands for the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) was created by our advisor and friend, Tim Howes, and his colleagues at the University of Michigan in the early 1990s. By using LDAP, IT organizations could create communication lines between their directories, such as user identities or networks. Doing so, admins could federate user access to applications or other IT resources they need.

The LDAP protocol subsequently hatched two major directory services solutions: OpenLDAP™ and Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD). Both of these solutions were on-prem platforms that required a great deal of ongoing management and maintenance. Regardless, these solutions based on LDAP became the mainstays for IT organizations everywhere.

Google LDAP

In the case of Active Directory, because the average IT network was largely based around Windows®, it’s popularity made a great deal of sense. OpenLDAP, on the other hand, is an open source instance of LDAP, which was more intensive in implementation than AD. The solution served a different set of use cases including connecting more technical users to their infrastructure platforms such as OpenVPN™, Kubernetes, MySQL, Jira, GitHub, and thousands of others. As well, LDAP was often used on its own as the platform to manage remote data centers with Linux® servers.

OpenLDAP would ultimately take a back seat to Active Directory as the core directory, but it would remain a critical part of the identity and access management infrastructure.

The Shift to the Cloud

cloud-based directory services

For many IT and DevOps organizations, implementing and managing an on-prem LDAP infrastructure is quite painful. It requires ongoing security, high availability, additional infrastructure measures, and more. Once the LDAP infrastructure is in operation, the attention then shifts to integrating systems and applications into the LDAP identity provider (IdP). This integration is also time consuming and painful.

A modern approach to LDAP is making its way into IT and DevOps organizations. This cloud LDAP offering is a global network of LDAP servers that admins can connect their applications to. Because the virtual LDAP infrastructure is integrated into a broader Directory-as-a-Service® solution, identities are not only leveraged within LDAP, but also with other protocols and IT resources such as systems, servers, file servers, and networks.

With this LDAP-as-a-Service solution, IT and DevOps organizations completely avoid the hassle of implementing their own LDAP infrastructure. They also gain the benefits and experience of an LDAP provider with tens of thousands of organizations utilizing the platform. All this and more are available from JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service.

Cloud LDAP from JumpCloud®

If this overview of cloud LDAP left you with any questions, feel free to contact us, and our expert staff with be happy to help. You can also jump right into the product and try Directory-as-a-Service today. Not only is signing up completely free, but comes with ten complimentary users forever.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a writer and researcher for JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, making music, and soccer.

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