Stronger Active Directory

By Zach DeMeyer Posted November 20, 2019

Microsoft® Active Directory® is widely known for the amount of heavy lifting it can do for IT organizations. Of course, Active Directory was created for a time when the only things it needed to lift were on-prem, Windows® domain-connected resources. With non-Windows/cloud resources piling on top of it, IT admins need a stronger Active Directory to keep up.

Active Directory Origins

When it first hit the IT market in 1999, Active Directory (AD) quickly rose through the ranks as the directory service of choice for IT organizations. This was largely because the average office of the time was almost entirely centered around Windows® systems and applications. Because AD was created by Microsoft, Windows resources were right in its management wheelhouse. 

Beyond that, AD was one of the earliest commercially available options in the space. This meant that it came fairly ready to go out-of-the-box and required considerably less work to implement than its open-source counterparts, such as OpenLDAP™. Due to these factors, AD soon dominated the identity management scene. 

Troubles of the Modern Era

Active Directory is often regarded as the strongest choice for directory services among the majority of IT admins, even to this day. Unfortunately, however, following the introduction of cloud resources and non-Windows assets, its strength has waned.

After all, AD was created specifically to serve the needs of IT organizations based primarily around on-prem, Windows-based resources. With the advent of cloud infrastructure, Mac® and Linux® systems, web applications, etc., organizations leveraging AD found they were having a harder time managing these modern innovations.

Performance Enhancement

The innovations of the cloud era seemed to be draining strength from Active Directory. In response, vendors in the identity management space took it upon themselves to enhance AD’s abilities. These solutions added on to native AD, compensating for its struggles with non-Windows solutions and cloud innovations.

Although the breadth of these add-ons stretched across much of identity management, the most common of these tools were web application single sign-on tools, identity bridges, multi-factor authentication (MFA) solutions, and governance software. In practice, each of these add-ons helps fill an important niche in modern AD-based identity management. Unfortunately, each only addresses its specific niche. These point solutions, while useful, can really ratchet up the budget for IT organizations with regard to both cost and overhead.

Stronger Active Directory

Many organizations found that these “performance-enhancing” add-on tools aren’t making their Active Directory instance any stronger, but instead putting more of a burden on IT admins themselves. As such, they are trying to find a stronger Active Directory, or at least a way to make AD truly stronger in the modern IT era.

That’s why thousands of IT organizations have turned to JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®. JumpCloud is a cloud directory service, reimagining Active Directory for the cloud era of IT. JumpCloud securely connects end users to their systems, applications, networks, infrastructure, and more, regardless of provider or location.

Extend AD

For organizations deeply rooted in Active Directory, JumpCloud can serve as the ultimate AD enhancement tool. Organizations can use JumpCloud to extend their AD credentials to virtually all non-domain resources. This is thanks to the JumpCloud AD Integration feature, which utilizes a pair of lightweight domain controller agents to create bi-directional sync between non-Windows/cloud resources and Active Directory. That way, organizations can reap all the benefits (and more) of their AD add-ons needs from a single solution, all while keeping AD as the master source of truth.

Replace AD

For organizations that are looking to replace Active Directory altogether, JumpCloud is the stronger AD that IT departments have been looking for. JumpCloud provides comprehensive user and system management for Windows, Mac, and Linux, as well as SAML, LDAP, and RADIUS protocol integration to federate credentials to applications, servers, networks, and more. With JumpCloud, IT organizations receive nearly all the functionality of native Active Directory, plus the host of add-ons required by modern identity management, all served serverless from a single cloud console.

Try JumpCloud Free

JumpCloud is your stronger Active Directory enhancement or replacement, but don’t take our word for it. You can learn more by leveraging JumpCloud for up to 10 users, absolutely free. You can also see the product in the hands of an expert by scheduling a free personalized demo, or by checking out our Build Your Own Directory tutorial series

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a writer and researcher for 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, making music, and soccer.

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