Web Based User Management Platform

Written by Vince Lujan on February 6, 2018

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The concept of web based user management has caught the attention of IT admins around the world. This is because traditional user management platforms have historically been complicated on-prem solutions like Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) or OpenLDAP. Nevertheless, as more IT resources shift to the cloud, more IT organizations are interested in a web based user management platform to match.

A web based user management platform can offer a number of benefits compared to legacy alternatives. JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® offers a particularly powerful example. However, before we dive into the benefits of this cloud-based directory service, we should outline the development of user management to reveal why web based user management is superior.

A Brief History of User Management

cross-platform device management

The modern era of user management dates back to the advent of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, otherwise known as LDAP. LDAP was developed in 1993 at The University of Michigan by our advisor, Tim Howes, and his team. Howes said in an interview that LDAP was created to help secure decentralized IT.

LDAP has inspired a number of powerful innovations in the identity management space. In fact, LDAP is the foundation of two of the most popular directory service platforms to date. The first is OpenLDAP, the open source iteration of LDAP that is used primarily for data center implementations. The other one combined LDAP with the Kerberos protocol to provide Windows® user and system management capabilities, otherwise known as Active Directory. Of course, AD has been far more dominant due primarily to the popularity of Windows-based systems. Regardless, both platforms owe much of their success to Tim Howes and LDAP.

There is no doubt that AD and OpenLDAP are powerful tools. The issue for modern IT organizations is that both solutions were designed for on-prem networks and homogeneous system environments (e.g. Windows). This is an issue because modern IT networks are a mix of cloud and on-prem resources and heterogeneous system environments (e.g. Windows, Mac, Linux). So it should come as no surprise that OpenLDAP and AD have struggled to keep up.

Active Directory fails in the cloud

The struggle is nothing new for IT admins. After all, OpenLDAP and AD have offered diminished returns since the mid-2000’s. This is a result of the proliferation of macOS and Linux systems throughout the enterprise space, the adoption of web applications like Salesforce™, cloud productivity platforms like G Suite, and Infrastructure-as-a-Service like AWS, to name a few examples. AD and OpenLDAP were never designed to support these types of resources. The result was that IT admins needed additional tools to extend on-prem user identities to these new innovations.

The need for additional tools subsequently inspired the first generation of Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) solutions. This category of user management tools are effectively add-ons to the legacy directory service designed to extend on-prem user identities (ex., web app single sign-on). This approach can be effective. However, while first gen IDaaS solutions can provide the user management capabilities that AD and OpenLDAP lack, the issue with this approach is that a growing number of add-ons are required as more IT resources shift to the cloud and diversify.

The bottom line is that IT admins have come to the realization that the add-on approach with AD or OpenLDAP on-prem is no longer sustainable. IT admins no longer want more add-ons and more complicated on-prem infrastructure. Instead, what modern IT organizations really need is a next generation web based user management platform that was built to manage modern IT networks. In other words, what modern IT organizations need is JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service.

Web Based User Management with DIrectory-as-a-Service

JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is a next generation web based user management platform built for the modern era of IT. Through its diverse support of platforms, protocols, and providers, JumpCloud centrally manages user access to virtually any system (e.g. Mac, Windows, and Linux), cloud or legacy applications (i.e., Salesforce, Oracle), wired or WiFi networks, (via RADIUS), physical or virtual file storage resource (i.e., Samba, NAS, Dropbox, Google Drive), cloud and on-prem infrastructure (AWS, legacy solutions), and more. In essence, JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service is AD and LDAP reimagined.

Contact the JumpCloud team if you would like to learn more about Directory-as-a-Service. You can also sign up for a Directory-as-a-Service account today and see a web based user management platform in action. We offer ten free users to help you explore the full functionality of our platform at no cost. These users are free forever and we don’t even require a credit card to sign up!

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Vince Lujan

Vince is a writer and video specialist at JumpCloud. Originally from the horse capital of New Mexico, Corrales, he has lived in Boulder, Colorado for three years. When Vince is not developing content for JumpCloud, he can usually be found at the Boulder Creek.

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