Is that a blasphemous statement in the IT world or music to your ears? Microsoft and their tools have been controversial for decades now. Whichever side of the fence you are on, though, there is no denying that Microsoft’s Active Directory (AD) solution is at a serious crossroads while the IT market changes dramatically. Even Microsoft has recognized this by having an adjunct Azure based Active Directory service.
The challenge with AD is not that it is inherently a bad piece of software. It is more that the dynamics of the IT landscape have changed. There has been a dramatic shift to cloud-based infrastructure. IT applications and an organization’s server infrastructure is increasingly based in the cloud. As a result, how does AD manage that remote infrastructure? Do you poke holes in your network security model and how do you manage non-Windows devices in the cloud? The second major trend is toward heterogeneous compute environments. AD was introduced in a world that was predominantly Windows within an organization. That is no longer true with Macs and Linux devices infiltrating all sizes of organizations not to mention tablets and phones. Active Directory was largely paired with Microsoft Exchange. The duo was the core of an organization’s back office infrastructure. As Google’s enterprise Gmail penetrates more organizations – they are already greater than 5mm – it creates less incentive to keep AD in place.
All of these trends are significant issues and IT admins are struggling with how to leverage them with legacy software and infrastructure. A key part of that struggle is with how to connect and manage their employees and their devices and IT applications. AD doesn’t let them connect everything together – at least not easily! IT’s mantra has changed – instead of being a service organization, they have become a catalyst for driving revenue. Putting new technologies in the hands of the business is driving an increased pace of innovation. IT is at the center of this movement.
A significant number of organizations are opting out of the AD path. Some organizations are not even going to it and others are moving away from it. With their infrastructure moving to the cloud, an employee base with Macs, and Gmail as their email platform, AD doesn’t solve their issues. A directory is still incredibly critical to these organizations – it provides a central, secure authoritative list of employees and their access rights. Further, IT needs to control and manage the devices including setting policies and security settings. A directory may be more important than ever with all of the different interconnections an employee may have.
Modern organizations are turning to a cloud-based directory like JumpCloud. JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service™ is reimagining a directory in the cloud era. JumpCloud connects to your cloud-based infrastructure – services like AWS, Rackspace, or SoftLayer – or other infrastructure-based services. You also get full device support – that means you can authenticate, authorize and manage Macs and Linux devices. You get the same control that AD gives admins over their Windows machines with Macs and Linux boxes. Macs and Linux devices aren’t second class citizens. And, we work seamlessly with Gmail. In fact, you get to move completely to the cloud with your directory infrastructure. You won’t have one foot in the on-prem software camp and one in the cloud with an AD / Gmail combination. We are all cloud and focused on delivering on what a directory should be.
If you are struggling with AD or considering AD, give us a call and see if we can help.