Single Sign-On Alternative

Written by Vince Lujan on February 11, 2018

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Single Sign-On (SSO) is a hot category in the cloud identity and access management (CIAM) space. This is because many IT organizations are still locked into the on-prem Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) ecosystem. SSO has historically enabled IT admins to extend AD identities to web applications and cloud resources. Yet, as more organizations seek to eliminate their on-prem IT infrastructure, admins have no choice but to look for alternatives to AD. Since conventional SSO was designed to modify on-prem environments, many forward-thinking orgs find themselves looking for a single sign-on alternative as well.

The good news is that a next generation single sign-on alternative has emerged that is changing the way IT admins think about SSO. In short, it’s called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®, and it offers SSO access to virtually any IT resource, including systems, apps, file servers, and networks. We like to call this concept True Single Sign-On™. However, we should discuss traditional SSO before we dive into the benefits of True SSO with JumpCloud.

A Brief History of Single Sign-On

While the use of the term Single Sign-On didn’t take hold until the mid-2000s, the concept of SSO first appeared in 1999 with the release of Active Directory. Most IT networks were Windows-based and on-prem, at the time. Naturally, AD flourished in this type of environment. One of the key benefits was that users could access all of their IT resources by simply logging into their system, and the Kerberos protocol would help them get what they needed. In other words, it was a “single sign-on” experience. It was a huge hit.

However, the nature of IT started to change in the mid-2000s as web applications like Salesforce came to market. This category of solution, among others, could not be bound to an AD domain and didn’t leverage Kerberos. Consequently, AD identities could not be leveraged to authenticate user access. The end result was that IT admins were forced to manage user access to cloud applications independently.

Active Directory fails in the cloud

It was this limitation with AD that inspired the creation of an entire category of first generation Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) solutions. Web application SSO is included in this category. While there are certainly a host of SSO alternatives, one thing they all have in common is the fact they are effectively add-on solutions. In other words, IT admins layer SSO solutions on top of their on-prem Active Directory instance with the purpose of extending user identities to unsupported resources (i.e. web applications).

This approach has proven to be effective. It can even provide an SSO experience for end users via their browser. The trouble with this approach is it adds a lot of complexity to management. This is because IT admins must then manage the add-on solutions on top of AD. Further, IT admins have come to discover that an increasing number of add-on solutions are required with each new innovation that breaks away from a traditional Microsoft foundation.

The good news is that a next generation single sign-on alternative has emerged that is putting the power back into the hands of IT. It’s called JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service.

True Single Sign-On with JumpCloud

JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is a next generation directory service platform that securely manages and connects users to their systems, applications, files, and networks. It does so regardless of platform, provider, protocol, or location. In other words, users can authenticate to virtually any IT resource using JumpCloud credentials.


The ability to leverage one set of credentials to gain access to just about anything is the essence of single sign-on. We like to think of this as True Single Sign-on. Somehow, that concept was lost in between the time AD was initially released and today. JumpCloud is bringing it back. In fact, you can think of us like AD and LDAP reimagined for modern networks.

Learn More About Our Single Sign-On Alternative

Sign up for a Directory-as-a-Service account today to see our next generation single sign-on alternative in action. Your first ten users are free forever to help you explore the full functionality of our platform at no cost. We don’t even require a credit card to get started. You also contact the JumpCloud team, or schedule a demo to have any questions answered.

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