Connecting users to their resources is challenging when remote, especially when organizations rely on legacy equipment to do so. Legacy directory services weren’t built for today’s IT needs, making it difficult for admins to manage a remote workforce that utilizes a number of cloud-based, platform-agnostic resources.
What are the top three issues for IT admins building and managing a remote workforce? It’s a great question, and one that has varying answers depending on the admin and their organization. Generally, though, IT admins have three issues to address when managing their remote workforce: access, availability, and security.
As an IT admin, it’s vital that you ensure remote workers have access to their IT resources. Users need to have reliable devices that can access company tools, applications, documents, and resources from home. By making sure your users can access what they need to get their work done, you eliminate a lot of potential friction when employees transition to remote work for the first time.
Users shouldn’t need to seek out solutions to accomplish their tasks; IT teams must provide them with a way to securely access all the resources they normally would, regardless of location. The issue for many comes with managing their users’ access to the variety of resources they use.
Most organizations use Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) for their identity and access management (IAM), which was designed ideally to natively manage access to Windows®-based, on-premises resources. In a remote, cloud-forward world, admins must work around the limitations of AD without layering costly point solutions or limiting the resources their users can access.
For many IT professionals, leveraging on-prem domain controllers is the norm. Though there’s always the risk of on-prem infrastructure becoming unreliable due to power or network outages, AD database corruption, and hardware failure, it’s simpler for admins to maintain equipment while in the office or their local data center.
However, with many admins and managed service providers (MSPs) working from home, the idea of on-prem equipment failing could disable employees from securely working for days, or even weeks. Rebuilding an AD instance is time-consuming and costly for IT professionals without a proper backup plan in place.
IT teams have long used virtual private networks (VPNs) to provide a secure route for users to access on-prem resources remotely. However, VPNs can be difficult for IT admins to set up, and can be frustrating for employees to use.
IT admins need to ensure that the organization’s digital assets are secure, no matter where those resources exist. IT professionals managing a remote workforce for the first time might find it challenging to maintain good security posture when users aren’t in-office. Employees need to securely access web applications, productivity suites, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platforms, macOS® machines, Linux® systems, and more — all of which can exist outside the Windows domain. So while VPNs provide another layer of security to connect users with their on-prem resources, there’s often still a number of systems, apps, and networks left potentially unsecured.
A Potential Solution in the Cloud
There are, of course, many other issues that IT admins need to make sure they cover, like compliance, efficiency, and cost effectiveness. However, for most IT organizations, those will fall below the foundational elements of providing access to IT resources, ensuring that end users can always do their jobs, and that the organization’s digital assets are secure.
A solution admins can consider is bridging Active Directory with a cloud-based directory service. By doing so, the cloud directory service can serve as a comprehensive identity bridge to all the resources AD struggles to manage. So users can gain access to their resources with one identity, and IT teams can centrally manage that access.
In addition, syncing AD with directory services in the cloud removes the worry associated with what happens when a domain controller fails. JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® was designed to be always available and highly redundant, no matter where your workforce may be. So if your domain controller is unavailable, users can still access all of their non-AD bound resources to Make Work Happen®.
Using JumpCloud’s AD Integration, admins can centralize and secure their IT infrastructure while entirely remote. Admins can federate AD identities everywhere they’re needed and begin to manage directory functions from the cloud including even provisioning users in AD. Using AD Integration would also provide a legacy AD instance with single sign-on access for users and their cloud resources, cross-platform system management with anti-phishing technology, and would eliminate the need for VPNs.
Managing a remote workforce with a cloud-based identity provider bridges gaps in legacy directory services. Interested in learning more about cloud-based remote user management?
Check out our blog to learn more about the specifics of managing remote employees with a cloud directory.