SaaS Directory Service

Written by Greg Keller on December 17, 2015

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Many different software platforms are becoming Software-as-a-Service applications. For example, CRM was once an on-premises application and is now most often consumed as a SaaS-based service. Email is now often leveraged from the cloud. HR software, finance software, marketing software, are all leveraged as a SaaS-based solution. While not necessarily SaaS solutions, even hardware infrastructure are being delivered as a service.

Traditionally On-Premise

Until recently, directory services have not been implemented as SaaS applications. Traditionally, directory services have been delivered as on-premises software solutions. Two solutions have dominated the landscape over the last 15 years: on the commercial side, Microsoft Active Directory, and on the open source side, OpenLDAP. When IT organizations needed to leverage a core authentication service, most often these two solutions were called upon.

Breaking the Mold Is not Easy

As the world has moved to the cloud, however, Active Directory and OpenLDAP have struggled to keep pace. Not only have they missed connecting and managing cloud infrastructure, but they have continued to be delivered as on-premises services. We should note that Microsoft is making an effort to deliver Active Directory from the cloud with Azure Active Directory, but it still requires an on-premises Active Directory version to feed it.

There is another factor that is complicating efforts to manage users and devices on networks in today’s environment – heterogeneity. Microsoft Windows is no longer the only platform in use. In fact, Goldman Sachs has said that Windows comprises 20% of the device population in an organization. Mac and Linux devices are making up a large share these days as are smartphones and tablets. Active Directory and OpenLDAP struggle with the variety of platforms on the market today.

Begin in the Cloud

With these issues in play and the move to the cloud, a new generation of SaaS-based solutions has emerged – Directory-as-a-Service. As a SaaS-based directory service solution, it is delivered from the cloud, for the cloud, and to the cloud. As any quality SaaS-based solution, it is also backwards compatible and can certainly support on-premises equipment and applications. The cloud-based directory service connects users to Mac, Windows, and Linux devices, legacy (read: LDAP-based) and SaaS-based applications, and networks. IT admins can now have one central cloud-based directory infrastructure for their endpoint devices, their server infrastructure (perhaps at AWS or Google Compute Engine), and their applications wherever they may be located.

The move to SaaS-based solutions can’t just be about taking legacy software and cloud-washing it. A new era needs new capabilities. Directory-as-a-Service is embracing that challenge and building on top of Active Directory and LDAP to reimagine the way directory services need to be delivered in the future.

To learn more about how Directory-as-a-Service can help your organization, drop us a note, or feel free to give it a try for free. Your first 10 users are free forever.

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