By Vince Lujan Posted January 17, 2018
A comprehensive web based directory service platform is highly sought after in modern IT organizations. This is because directory services have traditionally been on-prem solutions like Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) and OpenLDAP™. While both of these solutions are great for homogenous, on-prem IT networks, the issue with AD and OpenLDAP is that modern IT organizations seek to eliminate the majority of their on-prem infrastructure in favor of cloud solutions.
The good news is that a next generation web based directory service platform has emerged that is effectively AD and OpenLDAP reimagined for the cloud era. This cloud identity provider (IdP) offers a comprehensive array of management capabilities for virtually any IT resource, regardless of platform, provider, protocol, or location. In short, the solution is called JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service®. However, in order to understand the benefits of the web based directory service platform, let us first outline the legacy approach to directory services to reveal what has changed with the shift to the cloud.
Legacy Directory Service Platforms
Modern directory services really kicked off with the advent of LDAP, otherwise known as the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol. LDAP was created by Tim Howes and his colleagues at The University of Michigan in 1993. It was created as an alternative to the X.500 directory access protocol, and offered a lightweight solution to secure decentralized IT.
Two foundational directory service platforms emerged from LDAP a few years later. The first was OpenLDAP, which would effectively become a niche solution leveraged primarily for data center implementations. The other was from Microsoft, which combined LDAP and the Kerberos protocol to create Active Directory. Of course, AD would go on to become the most dominant directory service platform to date.
However, the IT landscape started to change in the mid-2000’s as Mac and Linux began to break into the enterprise system market and web applications began to provide cloud alternatives to legacy applications on-prem. While these new types of resources offered a number of benefits, they also introduced a few drawbacks. One consequence was that identity management became a major challenge with legacy identity management platforms.
The result was an entire generation of Identity-as-a-Service solutions was created to mitigate these challenges. These solutions were layered on top of the on-prem identity provider with the purpose of extending user identities to unsupported IT resources that can not be managed with AD or OpenLDAP directly.
The add-on approach has proven to be effective and remains as one of the most common approaches to IT management to this day. However, IT admins have come to discover that multiple add-ons are required to support the huge variety of IT resources that are unsupported by legacy management platforms. Further, more add-ons will be required as IT resources continue to shift to the cloud.
Obviously, IT admins cannot continue to layer add-ons on top of their on-prem directory service indefinitely. Fortunately, a next generation web based directory service platform has emerged that is effectively AD and OpenLDAP reimagined for the cloud era. That next generation solution is called Directory-as-a-Service, by JumpCloud.
Next Generation Web Based Directory Service Platform
JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service seamlessly connects user identities to virtually any IT resource, regardless of platform, provider, protocol, or location. In essence, the web based directory service platform provides management capabilities that are akin to the capabilities native to OpenLDAP or Active Directory, without the hassle of implementing and maintaining a legacy directory service solution. Rather, JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service delivers the full functionality of the directory service platform from the cloud.
The end result is having One Directory To Rule Them All®. That translates to having the capability to securely manage and connect users to systems (e.g., Windows, Mac, Linux), cloud infrastructure (AWS, GCP), cloud productivity platforms (G Suite, Office 365), web applications (ex. Salesforce, Dropbox, Box), on-prem applications (OpenVPN, Docker, Jenkins), Samba file servers and NAS appliances (Synology, QNAP), cross platform GPO-like capabilities with Policies, manage network access (RADIUS), enforce MFA, password complexity requirements, and more.
Discover the Benefits of a Web Based Directory Service Platform
Directory-as-a-Service is a next generation web based directory service platform with the power to connect users to virtually any IT resource. In doing so, IT organizations can take advantage of a hosted solution that is effectively AD and LDAP reimagined for the cloud.
You can also contact the JumpCloud team to learn more about web based directory service platforms, or sign up for a Directory-as-a-Service account today and see one in action. Your first ten users are free forever to help you explore the benefits of the JumpCloud platform at no cost.