Serverless Authentication

Written by Zach DeMeyer on November 9, 2018

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As the IT network shifts to the cloud, one of the critical issues facing IT admins and DevOps engineers is how to control user access to a wide array of IT resources, both on-prem and in the cloud. Traditionally, this process has been handled by on-prem solutions such as OpenLDAP™ and Microsoft® Active Directory® (MAD or AD). But in the era of the cloud and SaaS-based solutions, is there a serverless authentication platform that can be utilized?

The Proper Authentication Tools

what is TRUE single sign on

As previously mentioned, the traditional method of authenticating users has been to leverage on-prem tools like OpenLDAP or AD. This makes sense, of course, given that both of these solutions were introduced in the late 1990s, back when just about everything was based on-prem, and furthermore, centered around the Windows® OS. Just like using a hammer to drive a nail, leveraging a user authentication tool that is designed around the way an IT shop functions is a best practice.

The IT landscape, however, is changing, and the IT management tools that IT organizations leverage need to change with it. With the introduction of cloud infrastructure from AWS®, web applications such as Slack™, GitHub™, Salesforce™, and more, as well as Mac®/Linux® systems, the legacy approach to authentication started to break down. Many of these resources didn’t leverage Kerberos (one of AD’s native authentication protocols), or even LDAP for that matter. The result was that IT organizations needed to scramble and find add-on solutions for AD to manage these non-Windows solutions. Unfortunately, that just created a patch work of solutions to buy and manage.

Tied Down by Servers

Picture of Server

Faced by the challenge of having the wrong tool to meet today’s authentication requirements, admins were left wanting something more. The server, as it was known, was becoming more of a hassle than it was worth as more and more IT resources were offloaded to the cloud. The costs of implementing and maintaining a server to both IT budgets and admins’ workdays began to overshadow the benefits it brought to organizations. Given that AD and OpenLDAP are solely on-prem instances, they both began to tumble in to obsolescence with the server.

This development of the IT industry is the impetus behind the idea of serverless authentication. By going serverless, IT organizations not only save money by avoiding big server and CAL purchases, but also save time by avoiding the burden of creating and managing a server instance. Regarding authentication, since it is up in the cloud, a serverless directory service doesn’t require add-on solutions to connect user identities to their resources. As we said earlier, utilizing a user authentication tool that is designed around the way an IT shop functions is a best practice, and in this day and age, AD simply doesn’t cut it.

Directory Services

Serverless Authentication for All

Serverless Authentication for All, (graphic a play on famous evolution image)

If you are looking to alleviate the burdens of on-prem, server-based authentication, consider JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® as your serverless authentication suite of choice. JumpCloud reimagines LDAP and Active Directory for the cloud age, a best practice directory for the modern era. Third-party and cloud-based, JumpCloud is platform agnostic, and can authenticate user access to virtually any system, application, network, and more from one browser console.

If you’d like to see if JumpCloud is the serverless authentication solution for you, consider signing up for the DaaS product. Your first ten users in the platform are free forever. You can also schedule a demo to learn more, check out our YouTube Channel, or contact us with your questions.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a Product Marketing Specialist at JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, music, and soccer.

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