By Greg Keller Posted August 25, 2015
A good cloud directory is far more than taking an on-premises directory service solution such as Microsoft Active Directory® or OpenLDAP™ and simply moving it to the cloud. It isn’t enough that the environment around directory services has changed; the directory services themselves must change and expand. IT environments are dramatically different than they were when AD and LDAP were initially conceived. A modern directory service should reflect – and respond to – those changes.
The new era of IT computing simply requires a different approach to directory services. Our requirements for a quality cloud directory are below:
A Good Cloud Directory offer Multi-Protocol Support
Today’s applications and devices connect with a wide variety of protocols. Those can include SSH, SAML, OAuth, Kerberos, and many others. If a modern directory is to solve the needs for organizations today, it will need to support many of these different protocols.
As IT infrastructure has moved from a homogenous environment to a heterogeneous one, supporting multiple protocols is critical. Conventional directories haven’t been able to keep up. OpenLDAP focuses only on supporting LDAP. AD was built for PCs, plain-and-simple.
A Good Cloud Directory is Location agnostic
IT resources today are all over the world. They are not behind the firewall and in fact, the network itself is almost barely behind a firewall. Workers are all over the world and connecting from hotels, remote locations, and even airplanes.
Directory services need to operate regardless of location and, in fact, leverage the location to increase security perhaps even changing access controls. A new type of network needs to be stitched together for employees and contractors – one that includes the devices, applications, and networks that they need to access without regard to location.
A Good Cloud Directory offers Cross Platform Support
Microsoft Windows is no longer the dominant operating system that it once was. Apple’s remarkable ascension to the world’s most valuable company has placed Mac OS X and iOS devices at the forefront of the minds of IT admins. Linux continues to be a major player in the data center and on the server side.
Controlling access to these other platforms must be as simple as it has been to be the directory for Windows. A cloud directory must treat all three of these major platforms as first class citizens.
A Good Cloud Directory is Secure
Identities have become the most sought after digital asset. They are the keys to any kingdom. Compromise the right person’s identity in an organization and you have everything.
A good cloud directory needs to have security embedded into it from the beginning. AD and OpenLDAP were created for a different era and are ‘behind the firewall’ applications. A cloud directory must be built to go beyond the firewall while remaining secure.
A Good Cloud Directory is SaaS Delivered
IT organizations today aren’t interested in managing hardware and software themselves. They are putting their smart resources on strategic problems, not on managing what can be outsourced cost-effectively. A cloud directory needs to be delivered as a service.
The Directory Revolution is on the Cloud
A good cloud directory is more than just a cloud iteration of existing directory services. A cloud directory is a complete reimagining of Active Directory and LDAP for the modern era. Directory-as-a-Service® is the instantiation of this modern directory services.