User management describes the ability for someone, usually an IT professional, to manage employees’ digital identities, including keeping them up to date and provisioning, monitoring, changing, and revoking their access to different resources. Those resources can be anything from devices, to applications, to networks, to much more.
Is User Management Necessary?
Without any form of user management in your organization, users can and will inevitably:
- Work from any device they choose (potentially unpatched/outdated devices).
- Spend a lot of time troubleshooting or have to ask a manager for help to get access to the right resources.
- Create new accounts and sets of credentials across every resource they want to use, which creates identity sprawl.
- Not use any security measures such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) to secure those identities.
- End up with unknown (and potentially privileged) access levels and permissions across your critical resources.
So, the short answer is yes — user management is necessary, especially as organizations grow and teams and departments take shape. For example, the marketing team generally requires access to different resources than the accounting team. Proper user management would result in marketing employees gaining access to resources such as Marketo and Salesforce, and finance employees gaining access to internal financial systems, but not vice versa. User management enables IT administrators to manage resources and provision access based on need and role while keeping digital assets secure.
Managing user identities is crucial to the safety and success of any organization. Digital user identities are the number one target of bad actors, which leads to security breaches every day, so IT admins are more invested than ever in making sure that only the right people have access to the right resources.
User Management Approaches
User management can be done in one of two ways:
- Manually, with no central directory service, or
- Centralized and automated through a directory service.
Challenges With Manual User Management
The first approach only works for very small organizations (typically fewer than 10 employees), because once you get past 10 users, manual user management becomes a time-sink. Plus, it’s easy for things to go wrong when user management isn’t centralized or automated in any way.
On top of that, modern IT environments are complex, which can make manual user management even more difficult. Many organizations have employees using different operating systems and device types, infrastructure has shifted off-site, productivity platforms have moved to the cloud with big names like Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 shifting to the web browser, and more. Each of these adds a new layer of complexity to user management.
With a manual user management strategy, IT ends up managing a number of mini-directories, because identities are housed all over the place. And, users have to remember a multitude of usernames and passwords, which presents significant risk to organizations’ security posture. This is because users tend to experience password fatigue from identity sprawl which forces them to resort to recycling passwords, utilizing weak passwords, or writing passwords down on sticky notes and hiding them underneath their monitors.
51% of people use the same passwords for both work and personal accounts.
This stat shows how integral proper user management is to organizational security — such as requiring periodic password resets across all users and specifying password length and complexity requirements.
All in all, once organizations that are taking the manual user management route realize how big of an issue it is or will be in the future, they typically switch to the second approach — they implement a central directory service as part of their identity and access management (IAM) strategy.
User Management in the Cloud
However, the second approach includes a user management system, such as a directory service, which enables admins to manage users in a central location and empowers them to automate identity lifecycle management. Subsequently, the directory service will then authenticate, authorize, and audit user access to IT resources based on what an IT admin dictates. This takes a lot of the manual effort out of user management, and gives IT some time back for other critical tasks.
User Management in the Past
Traditionally, user management and authentication services have been grounded with Windows-based on-prem servers, databases, and closed virtual private networks (VPNs) through an on-prem identity provider (IdP) such as Microsoft Active Directory (AD). However, AD doesn’t handle modern IT resources well — including non-Windows devices, web apps, cloud infrastructure, and more.
On top of that, the way we work has changed, and it will continue to evolve over time. Hybrid work is popular, and the perimeter has shifted from traditional office walls to the digital identities employees use to access organizational resources. Because of all of this, many organizations want to shift everything (or as much as possible) to the cloud and away from clunky and outdated on-prem infrastructure. This means they want a cloud-based directory service to solve their user management needs.
The JumpCloud Directory Platform does just that — it’s a cloud-based open directory platform that includes robust user, access, and device management capabilities.
Further, this modern IdP enables comprehensive user management over all of the resources that AD struggles with. Using JumpCloud’s open directory platform, IT can provision and deprovision access to virtually all IT resources including Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android devices, web and on-prem applications, networks, physical file servers, and more. Further, JumpCloud goes beyond just user management by authenticating and authorizing access through a variety of techniques, including multi-factor authentication, for increased security.
Modern User Management Example
An example of modern user management is using the JumpCloud Directory Platform and Google Workspace together. With this package, you get a robust, modern cloud-based directory that provides centralized identity, access, and device management, and you get a popular collaboration and productivity suite.
JumpCloud extends your Google Workspace users’ identities across other connected resources to give employees access to everything they need, without adding to their identity sprawl. This makes IT’s job easier — they can centrally manage all users and only worry about a single secure identity for each.
JumpCloud User Management
User management is a much more robust topic than many think — to manage users effectively, you have to manage their information, access, and devices they use for work. This is difficult to do manually, and this approach can create security gaps with big implications down the road.
Luckily, JumpCloud is a complete user management solution, with identity, access, and device management capabilities built right into the platform. It’s an open directory platform which means it can connect to the other tools in your IT environment, regardless of provider. This centralizes user management into the JumpCloud Console, which makes IT’s day-to-day tasks that much easier.
With JumpCloud, you can implement single sign-on (SSO) across your users, manage any device (regardless of OS), connect users to all of their resources (networks, apps, and more), and give employees a secure password management system … plus much more! JumpCloud takes some of the burden of user management off IT admins through automation and centralized data and empowers end users to be productive.