User management describes the ability for administrators to manage user access to various IT resources like systems, devices, applications, storage systems, networks, SaaS services, and more. User management is a core part to any directory service and is a basic security essential for any organization. User management enables admins to control user access and on-board and off-board users to and from IT resources. Subsequently a directory service will then authenticate, authorize, and audit user access to IT resources based on what the IT admin had dictated.
Traditionally, user management has been grounded with on-prem servers, databases, and closed virtual private networks (VPN). However, recent trends are seeing a shift towards cloud-based identity and access management (IAM), granting administrators even greater control over digital assets.
In the beginning, there was Identity and Access Management
Developers have always recognized the need for user access management since the initial development of digital networks. Prior to the public internet, networks of computers were connected solely on a proprietary basis and largely between universities. As you may imagine, IT admins and developers did not want unauthorized parties to have access to proprietary digital assets. Rather, they wanted to limit access to only those approved for use. Thus, user management was born.
As the internet began to mature and became public, this notion of limiting traffic persisted and was the primary driving force behind various authentication protocols like LDAP and RADIUS. Microsoft took it a step further when they created Active Directory ® (AD), a product designed to compile user data and provision access to various IT resources based on need. In a Windows dominated ecosystem, AD remained the primary user management platform for decades. Currently, a new wave of cloud innovation has again changed the game in user management. Directory-as-a-Service®, the first cloud directory, is a great example of a modern take on user management for the cloud era.
Why Manage User Identities?
Simply put, user management solves the problem of managing user access to various resources. For example, the marketing team generally requires access to different resources than the accounting team. Further, an employee on the marketing likely doesn’t need access to internal financial systems and vice versa, a finance employee isn’t requiring access to Salesforce or Marketo. User management enables IT administrators to manage resources and provision users based on need and role.
Recent innovations in cloud technology have sparked a revolution in cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) such as AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform among others. Coupled with web applications, users have more IT resources available at their fingertips than ever before, which is why user management has never been more essential. While there are various approaches to user management, one thing is certain – managing user identities is the foundation of identity access management.
Directory Services for Everyone
At the most basic level, Directory-as-a-Service® was created for just this purpose — to manage user identities and to form secure relationships with the resources they need to get the job done. User identities are like the seed from which roots grow deep to reach IT resources critical for an employee to grow and flourish, and fed by information like rain from the cloud. With JumpCloud, users can leverage the core directory services database as the authoritative source of truth for their digital identities. One Identity to Rule Them All™, always on and ready, delivered securely from the cloud.
Sign up for a free account to start growing your directory today. Your first ten users are free forever! You can also check out our blog for more information on user management and other cloud identity management topics or contact a member of our engineering team for any product inquiries.