What is Google Cloud Directory Sync? FKA GADS- JumpCloud

Written by Vince Lujan on March 19, 2018

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What is Google Cloud Directory Sync (GCDS)? Well, in short, it’s really just the new name for a tool we all know very well: Google Apps Directory Sync (GADS). Still, the name change does foretell Google’s designs on the identity management space. We’ll talk about the future of the identity management space in this blog, but first, we should discuss what GADS is all about.

What is GADS?

Google Cloud Identity Management

For many years, GADS has existed as an identity bridge used to sync Google Apps (now called G Suite) with on-prem directory services platforms like Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) and/or OpenLDAP. Hence, the original name: Google Apps Directory Sync.

Why is GADS important?

GADS has been an important tool to help organizations move to the cloud. Many IT organizations have wanted to move their IT infrastructure to the cloud, but don’t know how or what steps to take. Google’s cloud productivity platform, G Suite, was one of the first major solutions to help organizations move to the cloud in a systematic way.

G Suite eliminated a number of core IT solutions on-prem, such as Microsoft Office® for productivity applications, Exchange® for email, and Windows File Server® for file storage. G Suite was a significant step up for IT organizations as it gave them a direct roadmap on how to move core pieces of infrastructure to the cloud and what to leave behind.

However, one of the key tools that stayed on-prem was Active Directory – the core identity provider for an organization. Google was already taking on the behemoth in the space with Exchange and Office, the last thing that they wanted to do was to attack another entrenched solution like AD.

Instead, Google created GADS (now GCDS) as the bridge between AD and G Suite. In doing so, IT admins would still create, manage, and delete users within Active Directory, but those changes would also be reflected in G Suite.

Why the name change?

For one, as previously noted, Google has changed the name of their productivity platform from Google Apps to G Suite. Further, as Google’s cloud portfolio has grown beyond G Suite – most notably with Google Cloud Platform (GCP) – their concept for Google Cloud Directory Sync has also grown to accommodate additional Google offerings.

Issues with Google Cloud Directory Sync (GCDS)

G Suite Google Identity Management Challenges

While GCDS has been a valuable asset for IT organizations, there is certainly plenty of room for improvement. For example, GCDS requires another server on-prem and a tight integration with AD. While this does enable IT admins to extend on-prem identities to the cloud, it also further entrenches their IT infrastructure on-prem.

Yet, the biggest issue is that GCDS is effectively limited to Google resources. Modern IT organizations leverage multiple cloud providers (i.e., GCP, AWS®, Azure®) in addition to on-prem resources like Samba file servers, NAS appliances, and more. As a result, GCDS is yet another partial solution that adds complexity and further decentralizes IT management.

When you consider all of these issues and more, it becomes clear that GCDS doesn’t help IT organizations shift more to the cloud. In fact, it puts more emphasis on their core, on-prem directory service, rather than making a move to the cloud. The good news is that, despite GCDS, there is a better way to shift the complete identity management infrastructure to the cloud to match the cloud nature of Google services. A third party solution known as JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service® is tightly integrated with G Suite and Google Cloud Platform while being a comprehensive cloud directory service.

Replace GCDS with JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service

G Suite JumpCloud Integration

By replacing GCDS with JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service, IT admins can not only federate core user identities to Google offerings, but virtually any IT resource – regardless of platform, provider, protocol, or location. This is because, as the core identity provider, the JumpCloud platform securely manages and connects users to their systems, applications, files, and networks. The best part is that JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service enables IT admins to make their cloud-forward dreams a reality.

Learn More About Google Cloud Directory Sync

Check out our whiteboard presentation above, or contact JumpCloud to learn more about Google Cloud Directory Sync. You can also schedule a demo, or sign up for a JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service account to see a powerful GCDS alternative in action today. Your first ten users are free forever, and we don’t even require a credit card to explore the full functionality of our platform. Check out JumpCloud today!

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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