Virtual GPOs (Group Policy Objects)

Written by Natalie Bluhm on November 17, 2017

Share This Article

The concept of virtual GPOs that can be used across Mac, Linux, and Windows platforms is an intriguing idea. Unfortunately, that concept is not available from Microsoft Active Directory®, but the ability to execute policies and tasks in a cross platform environment is available in the third party cloud directory services platform, Directory-as-a-Service® (DaaS).

So let’s take a brief look at what GPOs are and how changes in the IT landscape have affected this IT tool.

GPOs and Active Directory

old office

Group Policy Objects are an important and critical part of the Active Directory platform. GPOs helped AD become the most popular directory services solution. With GPOs, Active Directory was able to do more than just control user access; AD could help to secure and manage Windows devices. GPOs made it possible for IT admins to execute tasks across large fleets of Windows systems. This included setting password complexity, mapping drives and printers, and setting screen saver lock timeouts. Without GPOs, IT would have had to manually take care of these tasks or leave these tasks in the hands of the end user.

While GPOs have been a great tool for IT, they are focused on only securing and managing Windows machines. This made sense in the IT landscape where GPOs originated. Windows-exclusive functionality was fine twenty years ago when environments were only Windows, but today, Windows only makes up 1 out of 5 devices in the modern office (Forbes). An increase in Mac and Linux systems has forced IT admins into requiring additional IT management tools to manage their non-Windows systems. This, of course, has added cost and overhead to their IT management infrastructure.

Virtual GPOs with DaaS

Mac worker

The idea of virtual GPOs that are are delivered from the cloud and across all three major platforms is a dream for IT organizations. But until recently, virtual GPOs has been just that:  a dream.

The modern IDaaS platform Directory-as-a-Service is actively turning the dream of virtual, cross-platform GPO like functioanlity into a reality, with GPO-like policy templates delivered from the cloud and for Windows, Mac, and Linux machines. IT admins can not only leverage template policies such as screen saver lock and USB port locking, but they can also create their own scripts and commands that can be executed across a mixed platform environment. Tasks can be scheduled ad hoc or set on a specific schedule. Audit logging is also available to ensure that tasks have been run and to help maintain visibility on the current status of systems.

Virtual GPO-like functions are now available with JumpCloud’s Policy Management.

Learn more about Virtual GPOs

Consider watching the whiteboard video below to learn more about how JumpCloud works to provide GPO-like functions, remote command execution, and audit logging for Mac, Linux, and Windows systems.  

For more information on virtual GPOs, we hope you’ll reach out to us with any questions you might have. If you’re ready to start testing GPO-like functions that are delivered from the cloud, sign up for a free account. Your first ten users are free forever.

Natalie Bluhm

Natalie is a writer for JumpCloud, an Identity and Access Management solution designed for the cloud era. Natalie graduated with a degree in professional and technical writing, and she loves learning about cloud infrastructure, identity security, and IT protocols.

Continue Learning with our Newsletter