5 Reasons to Break Up with Active Directory

Written by Rajat Bhargava on October 21, 2016

Share This Article

“I’m sorry Active Directory, but this just isn’t working anymore.”

Modern organizations are moving to the cloud. They are leveraging solutions such as Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps for Work, AWS, and more. The internal environment is changing too, with different device form factors and operating systems.

Even the way that IT operates the on-prem network changing, which is causing “irreconcilable differences” with Microsoft Active Directory. As a result, many organizations are moving to break up with Active Directory in favor of cloud directory services platforms such as Directory-as-a-Service®.

5 Reasons to Break Up with Active Directory:

#1 Mac OS X and Linux Devices –

hi res logos

Windows is no longer the dominant OS. In fact, only one in five devices is Windows [Forbes]. Today’s organizations are heavily leveraging Mac OSX and Linux. Both of these platforms struggle with Active Directory. IT admins have difficulty managing users and the devices themselves. AD has been optimized for almost two decades to work closely with Windows. Mac and Linux machines have largely gone unmanaged or IT organizations have had to purchase additional third-party solutions that sit on top of AD.

#2 AWS and Cloud Infrastructure –


The data center used to be on-prem and often leveraged Windows Server. The data center looked like an extension of the on-prem network via dedicated VPN. That was largely so that IT and developers could easily connect to those systems, but also so Active Directory could manage those Windows devices. As the data center has shifted to the public cloud at AWS, Google Compute Engine, IBM SoftLayer, and more, the entire premise of how to manage remote infrastructure has changed. With that change, is a conundrum of how to manage user access to those systems because AD doesn’t work easily or well.

#3 Move to the Cloud –


Not only are organizations moving to Infrastructure-as-a-Service, they are shifting their on-prem software to the cloud. Of course, Salesforce and Box are easy examples where shifting of CRM and file storage is moving to the cloud. But solutions such as Meraki are creating cloud managed networking solutions. Virtually every function that IT has managed in the past on-prem is being evaluated to move to the cloud. Active Directory’s model has always been to focus on the on-prem network and, as a result, it struggles with the concept of cloud. Similar to the management of OSX and Linux, IT organizations can look to purchase third party Single Sign-On or Identity-as-a-Service platforms to cover this deficiency in Active Directory.

#4 Costs and Pay-as-You-Go Model –


In addition to the costs related to using Active Directory, the infrastructure and resources required to implement and manage Active Directory is significant. This becomes a glaring problem for those organizations that have largely shifted away from Microsoft solutions. If there isn’t a need for an Enterprise Licensing Agreement with Microsoft, then the costs largely accrue to the use of AD and that doesn’t make a lot of sense. With an on-prem directory service, the requirement to directly manage it adds significantly to the cost of running the system. These costs could be easily avoided and shifted to a pay-as-you-go model where you only purchase what you need.

#5 Avoid Microsoft Lock-In –


Microsoft’s Active Directory has locked in organizations to the Microsoft stack for many years. It was a smart move on Microsoft’s part. If you are using Windows, you get great management tools. As you move away from Windows or Active Directory, the stranglehold that Microsoft has on your organization starts to weaken. Even if you opt to go with Office 365 and/or Azure, you don’t need to be stuck leveraging Active Directory and perpetuating your dependency on Microsoft solutions. You can break free and choose what platforms are best for your organization.

Ready to Break Up with Active Directory?

IT organizations are re-evaluating their choice of Active Directory because of these core reasons and more. If you are in a mixed platform environment, leveraging the cloud, and care about having an efficient IT organization, then you’ll want to look at Active Directory alternatives.

The most popular Active Directory replacement solution is Directory-as-a-Service. It is an independent cloud hosted directory service that eliminates a great deal of work for IT. It treats all of the major platforms – Mac, Windows, Linux, AWS, GApps, O365, and many others – as first class citizens. You aren’t tied to Windows or Microsoft.


If you would like to learn more about why a break up with Active Directory is in your best interests, drop us a note. Or, feel free to try our cloud identity management platform. Your first 10 users are free forever.

Rajat Bhargava

Rajat Bhargava is an entrepreneur, investor, author, and CEO and co-founder of JumpCloud. An MIT graduate with over two decades of high-tech experience, Rajat is a ten-time entrepreneur with six exits including two IPOs and four trade sales.

Continue Learning with our Newsletter