Set Group Policies without Microsoft® Active Directory®

Written by Vince Lujan on March 14, 2018

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IT admins often wonder if it’s possible to set group policies without Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD). Well, we should point out that Group Policy Objects (GPOs) are a unique feature of Active Directory. However, the function that GPOs play can be accomplished without AD. With that understood, the question then becomes how to set group policies without Active Directory – especially in cross-platform environments or ones with employees that need remote access. We’ll answer that question in this blog post, but first, let’s talk about what traditional Group Policy is all about.

What is Group Policy in Active Directory?

identity management active directory

The Group Policy concept has been a huge success for Microsoft. In fact, GPOs were one of the key features that enabled Microsoft to establish Active Directory as the default directory service solution for IT organizations. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Windows® based IT resources were already dominating the IT space when Microsoft first released AD to the market.

GPOs were used to set password complexity requirements, enforce screensaver locks, disable guest accounts and USB ports, and virtually an unlimited variety of tasks. IT admins relished these capabilities because they could remotely control their Windows machines and enforce policies that would keep their users safe – all while making their lives easier. It was nice while it lasted.

Issues with Active Directory GPOs

Active Directory fails in the cloud

As the world started to shift away from Windows in favor of Mac and Linux systems, IT admins were at a crossroads. On one hand, they liked the concept of GPOs. On the other hand, they really wanted the ability to set group policies on Windows, Mac, and Linux machines – just without AD. The latter wasn’t possible without the help of third party, enterprise grade systems that offered GPO-like policies for Mac and Linux (e.g., Identity-as-a-Service). But that meant IT admins had to deepen their investment into AD and on-prem.

To be fair, IT admins never really had a choice to begin with (until now). Active Directory has essentially been the only game in town for nearly two decades, after all. Now, however, a new cloud directory is emerging that is cross-platform and focused on securely managing and connecting users to the IT resources they need – regardless of platform, protocol, provider, and location. The same solution can even help IT admins set group policies without Active Directory. Without further ado, enter the JumpCloud cloud directory platform.


Try JumpCloud Free MDM

Manage All Devices in One Platform

Set Group Policies for Windows, Mac, and Linux

system management

JumpCloud Directory Platform is essentially Active Directory and LDAP reimagined for modern IT networks. We say this because the JumpCloud platform securely manages and connects users to their systems, applications, files, and networks. However, what sets the JumpCloud apart is that our solution can effectively manage virtually any IT resource, rather than being limited to Windows – not to mention it’s completely cloud-based.

Cross platform GPO-like capabilities are available out of the box with the JumpCloud platform. These capabilities are called JumpCloud Policies. In essence, IT admins can manage their Windows, Mac, and Linux fleets with group based policy management from the cloud. Check out the following whiteboard presentation to learn more about JumpCloud System Policies.

Discover More JumpCloud Use Cases

The best part about the JumpCloud platform is that our cross-platform GPO-like capabilities are but a feature of the overall solution. Contact the JumpCloud team, schedule a demo, or sign up for a JumpCloud Free account to discover additional use cases. Your first ten users and ten devices are free to help you explore the full functionality of our platform an no cost. We don’t even require a credit card to get started! Don’t hesitate to join the JumpCloud family today.

Vince Lujan

Vince is a writer and video specialist at JumpCloud. Originally from the horse capital of New Mexico, Corrales, he has lived in Boulder, Colorado for three years. When Vince is not developing content for JumpCloud, he can usually be found at the Boulder Creek.

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