By Greg Keller Posted November 6, 2015
Many organizations are using Google Apps as their productivity platform of choice. In fact, over six million businesses are choosing Google Apps, resulting in over sixty million users. The platform is clearly working and scaling. While Google Apps is viewed as the email and productivity apps platform, Google doesn’t have a corresponding solution to manage the user directory and Windows devices.
Glimpsing Back at Microsoft’s Active Directory
Over a decade and a half ago, Microsoft introduced Active Directory to be a complement to Exchange and their entire Office productivity suite. With AD, IT admins could not only control access to the productivity suites of Exchange and Office, they could also manage each person’s Windows device. The AD/Exchange duo existed as a staple in IT organizations. The solution was tightly integrated so it was a powerful management tool for IT admins.
Providing a Google Apps Companion
While Google Apps exists in the modern cloud era, there isn’t a corresponding Active Directory equivalent. Google Apps has done a very good job of replacing Exchange and Office. In fact, they’ve done such a great job that Microsoft has responded with Azure and Office 365. The challenge for Google Apps customers is that they cannot control user access to Google Apps and to the rest of their IT resources, such as devices, applications, and even the network in the same way that they used to. Now they need to manage users in the Google Apps directory which controls access to Google applications, and also then separately manage access on each device, server, application, and WiFi access point. This scenario creates a significant amount of extra work while decreasing security. Managing multiple directories increases the likelihood of errors in access control.
Gaining Security and Control with DaaS
With JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service, IT organizations now have an Active Directory like solution in the cloud. Complementary to Google Apps, Directory-as-a-Service is the centralized user management control point for IT. Google Apps identities can be seamlessly used for access to Windows devices and more. In fact, Directory-as-a-Service has a Group Policy Objects-like solution that enables IT admins to execute tasks on their fleet of Windows machines. PowerShell gives IT admins the leverage they need to script policy solutions for a wide range of actions on Windows devices, including changing registry settings, updating files, and simply executing commands.
One can not underestimate the power and convenience of a central identity connecting Google Apps and Windows devices. Users employ that single identity to login to both systems and IT admins have full management capabilities, including the ability to provision, deprovision, and modify Google Apps user records. Admins are also able to fully control Windows devices, including creating and deleting accounts as well as managing the device itself.