Virtual Identity and Access Management

Written by Jon Griffin on November 2, 2017

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Is it possible to have a virtual identity and access management (IAM) platform? Historically, the answer to that question has been no. But a new wave of cloud-based identity and access management solutions is emerging – and these modern tools are transforming the best practices for identity and access management.

The Identity Management Market

Virtual Identity and Access Management in the Making

Before we walk through new, virtual IAM solutions, we should step back and walk through how the identity management market has evolved. The modern era of IAM kicked off in the early 1990s with the advent of LDAP. This protocol was created by our advisor Tim Howes and his colleagues from the University of Michigan, and it turned into one of the core authentication protocols of our time. Solutions such as OpenLDAP™ and Microsoft Active Directory® ended up using LDAP as a springboard to become some of the core identity providers for organizations. OpenLDAP took over the open source directory market, and Microsoft AD took over the commercial market.

As AD started to dominate the IAM field, new categories were created that leveraged AD as the core directory service for an organization. Directory extension software, web application single sign-on, privileged identity management, password managers, and multi-factor authentication all became important parts of the identity management market. All of these solutions were built on top of Active Directory, solidifying the directory’s place in the market.

Changing to the Cloud

Changes in IT led to a need for Virtual Identity and Access Management

In the mid-2000s the IT landscape started to shift. Web applications became more critical. Cloud infrastructure from AWS and others started to threaten the on-prem data center. Google Apps emerged as an important platform for workplace productivity. On top of all of that, Mac and Linux devices started to take over for Windows-based systems.

All of these changes impacted how IT conducted identity management – which is made clear by the explosion of different solutions in the space. However, even with all of these changes and all of the one-off solutions trying to address them, Active Directory still persisted. AD had a firm grip on its customers and forced IT organizations to keep one foot on-prem.

Active Directory is not a good solution for Virtual Identity and Access Management

Having an on-prem directory with cloud resources and remote/cross platform workers caused lots of challenges for IT organizations. The result was more time spent on manual management and workarounds, along with bottlenecks and pain points. The image above illustrates many of the primary drivers for IT admins seeking a cloud alternative to Active Directory.

AD Challenges Spur IAM Innovation

Big problems require big solutions. In the case of identity and access management woes, innovation has come in the form of a new virtual IAM platform called Directory-as-a-Service®. DaaS is a next generation, cloud-hosted directory service, that is focused on removing the pain points AD is causing admins. The idea was to enable an organization to securely manage and connect their users to the IT resources they needed regardless of platform, protocol, provider, or location, all while being delivered from the cloud.

In contrast to SSO and MDM solutions, this isn’t an incremental step forward. DaaS represents  a major leap in the cloud IAM space.

JumpCloud’s Virtual Identity and Access Management Platform

Virtual Identity and Access Management Platform with JumpCloud

Since the advent of OpenLDAP and AD, there had been very little innovation in the directory services space. It’s clear that IT admins are ready for a change.

JumpCloud’s virtual identity and access management platform can take a user identity and connect it with systems (Windows, Mac, and Linux), cloud and on-prem servers (e.g. AWS, Azure, GCP, internal data centers), web and on-prem applications via LDAP and SAML, physical and virtual storage systems (Samba file servers, NAS devices, cloud storage such as Box and Dropbox), and wired and WiFi networks via RADIUS. The cloud-based directory is built for modern IT, ensuring that organizations can simplify their directory’s needs and get more time back to dedicate to their company’s core goals.

If you would like to learn more about the virtual identity and access management platform Directory-as-a-Service, reach out to us. We’d be more than happy to answer any questions you have on the topic. You can also try out the cloud directory for yourself. Your first 10 users are free forever, with no credit card required, so you can test every aspect that you want and make sure it will work for your environment before moving forward. Sign up for a free account today!

Jon Griffin

Jon Griffin works as a writer for JumpCloud, an organization focused on bringing centralized IT to the modern organization. He graduated with a degree in Professional and Technical Writing from the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and is an avid learner of new technology from cloud-based innovations to VR and more.

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