To Replace Active Directory Or Not: A Debate

By Greg Keller Posted August 23, 2016

Microsoft Active Directory has been a fixture in the IT community for almost two decades now. Because of that, it’s no wonder that it is considered blasphemous to think that a network can operate without Active Directory. The truth is, a network can operate without Active Directory or with an Active Directory replacement, but it does depend on your particular environment.

When Active Directory Made Sense


Active Directory is an on-prem directory service that works best with Microsoft Windows environments. The solution was released in 1999, when IT environments were quite different. Practically all of an organization’s IT resources were on-prem and behind the firewall. In fact, most of an organization’s workers were located at one of their offices. IT organizations also leveraged the Microsoft Exchange email server, so it made a lot of sense to go with AD as their identity provider.

Why AD Is No Longer Relevant

Now, almost 20 years later, that is no longer the norm. The concept of a centralized, homogeneous environment has blown up thanks to cloud and mobile computing. Today’s modern organization is heterogeneous, global, and agile. It’s a far cry from yesteryear’s IT. As a result, the question of whether Active Directory is relevant anymore is quite prescient. With Macs, Linux, AWS, Google Apps, Office 365, and many more solutions, the theory of securely connecting and managing user identities to IT resources is much more difficult.

In practice, though, it doesn’t have to be hard.

A Modern Directory Service Takes Shape, Expands Function

JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service® platform centralizes user management and connects users to the IT resources they need regardless of platform, protocol, or location. In fact, JumpCloud’s cloud-based directory service enables centralized user management, LDAP-as-a-Service, cloud RADIUS, device management (Windows, Mac, and Linux), multi-factor authentication, True Single Sign-On, and more. In fact, JumpCloud is reimagining Active Directory and LDAP.


Drop us a note if you would like to learn more about whether you need Active Directory. Please let us know if you’d like to look at modern cloud-based directory services as well. We are happy to discuss what solution would be right for you. If you are inclined, you can also give our Directory-as-a-Service platform a try for yourself. It only takes about five minutes to get started, and your first 10 users are free forever.

Greg Keller

Greg is JumpCloud's Chief Product Officer, overseeing the product management team, product vision and go-to-market execution for the company's Directory-as-a-Service offering. The SaaS-based platform re-imagines Active Directory and LDAP for the cloud era, securely connecting and managing employees, their devices and IT applications.

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