What is AWS® Cloud Directory?

Written by George Lattimore on July 16, 2018

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If you’re feeling slightly confused about the new offering from Amazon Web Services (
AWS®) in the cloud directory space, it’s completely understandable. The term “cloud directory” meant one thing in the past, but recently, it has been used for slightly different purposes. This raises the obvious question, what is AWS® Cloud Directory exactly? Well, let’s dive in and try to peel the onion together.

So, What is AWS Cloud Directory Really?

So, What is AWS Cloud Directory Really?

Peeling back the first layer, AWS Cloud Directory is simply a repository for hierarchical information. In other words, AWS Cloud Directory is a database where IT admins can place object data, create relationships between objects, or assign attributes to those objects. One good example of an AWS Cloud Directory capability would be the ability to create an organizational chart for a particularly complex organization (think of a tree with many long and winding branches), and then subsequently tie important attributes to those objects in the org chart itself. Seems practical, right?

But considering it’s supposed to be a directory service—does this sound odd at all to you? AWS Cloud Directory is taking a far different approach than the traditional meaning behind the term directory services, or the newer term of a cloud directory for that matter. While somewhat related to both, it is critical to understand that even though AWS Cloud Directory can create complex relationships between objects in a hierarchical fashion, it does not provide the ability to authenticate users or connect them to their IT resources.

In Need of a True Cloud Directory Service

In need of a true cloud directory service

In the past, IT resources were located on-prem and accessed through Microsoft® Active Directory® (MAD or AD), but with the migration to the cloud, that model has changed dramatically. AD was built exclusively to support Windows-based devices, so the shift to AWS’ data centers has been somewhat problematic. To compensate for MAD’s limitations, AWS Directory Service was created as a separate solution. Rather than solving the problem, this created a new one, as IT admins were stuck managing separate systems, or trying to ensure that integration for them is always working 100% effectively.

In other words, neither AWS Cloud Directory or AWS Directory Service are true, comprehensive directory services platforms. The concept of a cloud directory for an authentication and authorization platform is vastly different than what has been created by AWS with their Cloud Directory. So, once again, if you are confused by the naming, it is completely understandable. However, if you are interested in employing a cloud directory service, there is another solution available that can directly help you. Called JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®, this cloud directory is reimagining Active Directory for the modern era.

Like you would expect from a cloud directory, this independent platform securely manages and connects user identities to the IT resources they need. Whether Mac®, Windows®, or Linux® system management, web or on-prem applications, Samba file servers, or WiFi networks, Directory-as-a-Service securely authorizes and manages user access.

JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service®

JumpCloud directory-as-a-service

Another way to think about the difference between these two cloud directories is that AWS Cloud Directory is a unique database that can help organizations create a variety of different solutions around object data, whereas Directory-as-a-Service is a specific implementation of a user datastore and authentication platform. With Directory-as-a-Service authentication, you can harness deep control with system and server management, applications, file servers, and networks, regardless of platform, protocol, provider, and location. Furthermore, for cloud-forward organizations who want to use AWS servers, Directory-as-a-Service conveniently features AWS server user management.

Still unsure about what is AWS Cloud Directory or want to know more about how Directory-as-a-Service can streamline your identity management process? Contact us directly. One of our experts will be happy to answer any questions you might have, or set you up with a personalized walkthrough. If you want to explore the platform on your own, go ahead and sign up for free. First 10 users can be registered at no cost, forever.

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