Which is better AD or Azure® AD?

By Natalie Bluhm Posted May 16, 2018

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Microsoft® is making a big push to shift their customers to Azure® services. The Office® to Office 365  transformation may be the most significant example of this. In the identity and access management (IAM) space, Microsoft is pushing their new solution Azure Active Directory® (Azure AD). Can Azure AD completely replace their on-prem solution, Active Directory (AD)?  Which is better, AD or Azure AD?

In order to answer these questions, and to understand which Active Directory solution is better for your organization, it is important to understand how AD and Azure AD differ from one another.

The Differences Between AD and Azure AD

cloud IAM

First, it’s important to know that Azure Active Directory is not Active Directory in the cloud. In other words, you can’t replace your on-prem Active Directory instance with Azure AD. Instead, the two solutions complement each other. You see, Microsoft isn’t ready to stop making a profit off of the on-prem solution, Active Directory. So, they don’t want you to replace AD but use AD in conjunction with Azure Active Directory. What would this setup look like in your IT environment?

Well, Active Directory would be your core identity provider, while Azure AD acts as the user management platform for Azure services and provides single sign-on to web applications. The thing is, this setup is really designed for Microsoft centric workplaces, and it doesn’t work well if you leverage non-Microsoft IT resources. For example, if you are trying to connect to G Suite , AWS®, Mac® and Linux® systems, or on-prem Linux-based applications, both Active Directory solutions struggle. Additionally, for those looking to move all of their IAM infrastructure to the cloud, Azure AD will not provide the control and visibility IT admins expect from a directory service.

For modern organizations making the shift to the cloud, there is a better approach to identity and access management than to rely on AD or Azure AD. The next generation approach for IT organizations is now to leverage a cloud identity management platform called JumpCloud®  Directory-as-a-Service®.

An Identity Provider for the Cloud Era


JumpCloud is a completely cloud-based directory service. It doesn’t require any on-prem hardware or software, taking tasks off your hands that come with on-prem directory services like maintenance, availability, configuration, and security. Additionally, our cloud identity management solution can integrate with virtually all of your IT resources, regardless of where they are, who provides them, and what platform and protocols your IT resources leverage. By utilizing JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service, you’ll gain widespread visibility and fine tuned control over all of your systems, applications, file storage, and networks. This independent approach also means you’ll be able to provide your end users with a frictionless workflow because they’ll only need one identity to log in to all of their IT resources.

Interested in Finding Out More?

Do you still have questions concerning which is better, AD or Azure AD? Don’t hesitate to drop us a note. We’ll happily provide you with more information about why JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service might be a better fit over AD and Azure AD for your IT environment. If you would like to get a better sense of how JumpCloud fits within the identity management market, consider watching the whiteboard video above. Otherwise, sign up for a free account to get a hands on experience with our cloud-based directory service. The whole platform is available, and your first ten users are free forever.

Natalie Bluhm

Natalie is a writer for JumpCloud, an Identity and Access Management solution designed for the cloud era. Natalie graduated with a degree in professional and technical writing, and she loves learning about cloud infrastructure, identity security, and IT protocols.

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