By Jon Griffin Posted February 20, 2018
Following the transformation of the IT industry can be rather complex. Over the course of the last two decades there have been some significant changes in the IT landscape, and these changes have forced new approaches and ways of thinking for organizations. One of the most significant changes we have seen is the maturation of the world wide web and the advent of the cloud. The benefits of the cloud are immense, improving the efficiency and productivity of companies worldwide. However, the cloud is also causing organizations to restructure their entire IT infrastructure, and it has many admins dealing with new challenges to maintain control. Ensuring that a user’s identity can be kept in check in the cloud is one of these important new challenges. The need to control web-based IT resources is one of the main reasons a new concept is emerging: the web IdP (identity provider) The concept of a web IdP is a critical area to explore because not only is it able to help address the security challenge of the cloud, but it also is able to help improve identity management as a whole in the modern age of IT.
Why it’s Time to Move Away from the On-Prem IdP
No matter how your IT Infrastructure is set up, at the heart of it is the identity provider. Managing who has access to what IT resources is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an IT admin. When looking at the past two decades, this function has most commonly been handled by Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD). Using AD made a lot of sense in the early 2000s because virtually everything was Microsoft based and located on-prem. This type of environment is exactly what AD was built for, and for a while it did everything admins needed. Unfortunately, AD’s functionality has not kept up with the changing state of IT.
The challenges with using a legacy, on-prem IdP started to appear within the last decade, and they all revolved around the many changes occuring in the IT environment. IT organizations started moving to solutions such as G Suite and AWS. Mac and Linux devices started taking over for Windows machines. Windows File Servers were being replaced by Samba file servers, NAS appliances, and cloud storage services such as Box and Dropbox. These changes pulled IT far away from the Microsoft based on-prem environment that AD was designed for. The traditional identity provider just couldn’t handle all these changes. Many third party applications stepped up to try and fill in some of the gaps, but with each added solution there came additional complexity, costs, and time requirements for admins. It became clear that admins needed a unified solution that was built for the modern IT environment.
Web IdP: Built for Modern IT
The result of all of these challenges with the traditional IdP was the advent of a new concept – a web IdP. This new web IdP would be a directory service hosted in the cloud, and would work seamlessly across both cloud and on-prem resources. The next generation cloud-based directory service would be cross platform, support multiple protocols, be provider independent, and be location agnostic. For years this vision has sounded too idealistic, but today it is reality.
JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® (DaaS) is the encapsulation of the web IdP. This cloud-based directory is everything that IT admins have been asking for and more. With it, admins can securely manage user access not only to systems (Mac, Windows, Linux), but also to cloud or on-prem applications (via SAML, LDAP), wired or WiFi networks (via RADIUS), web or local servers (AWS, GCP), and virtual or physical storage (e.g., Samba, NAS, Box). With one centralized location to manage access to everything, admins truly are getting a directory that is built for the modern world of IT.
Learn More About JumpCloud’s Web IdP
Want to find more information about the capabilities of a web IdP like JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service? Look no further! You can sign up for a live demo here and ask questions while you watch. Alternatively, if you are more of a hands on person, you can sign up for a free account of the cloud-based directory. We offer all accounts 10 users free forever, so there’s no reason not to give it a shot. We have plenty of support documentation to help you understand how to set it all up, and as always if you ever have any questions we would be happy to help out. Just contact the JumpCloud team!