Why Use Directory-as-a-Service®?

Written by Zach DeMeyer on March 12, 2019

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With so many new technologies hitting the market and IT becoming a much more critical part of every organization, business owners and executives want to evaluate the bottom line, weighing why different solutions are valuable to their organization. Often, these novel solutions are described with buzzwords or technical terms that are difficult to understand and even harder to parse for their business value. In this article, we’ll discuss why organizations use Directory-as-a-Service®.

It’s best, when evaluating Directory-as-a-Service, to first understand directory services as a whole. These IT solutions have been in the enterprise for a long while, but have recently been disrupted by cloud apps and infrastructure. Let’s explore their value together.

The Value of the Directory Service

The definition of a directory service is a technology that securely manages and connects user to their IT resources including systems, applications, files, and networks generally without regard to platform, protocol, provider, and location. In short, it is the central command center that allows users to connect to what they need and are entitled to. The concept of directory services isn’t new, but it is critical for any organization trying to enable and empower their employees and contractors to Make Work Happen®.

The value for any organization of a directory service is to enable the workforce to leverage the best technology possible and allow them to use that without friction or frustration. The directory solution, also often called an identity provider (IdP), is also critical to IT security/compliance. Overall, the directory service acts as a source of operational efficiency for the IT organization.

Directories, Past: Active Directory®

Traditionally, the directory service has been provided by Microsoft® with their directory solution, called Active Directory® (or AD). AD made a great deal of sense in the early days of modern IT, when the network was almost exclusively Windows®-based and on-prem. Of course, since it was built around Microsoft’s proprietary OS, AD went together with Windows systems and apps like bread and butter.

Change swept over the IT landscape, and innovations led by the cloud revolutionized the way IT resources could be delivered. End users could leverage applications, infrastructure, file servers, and more from practically anywhere. The advent of WiFi further advanced the freedom of location granted by the cloud. The rise of Mac® and Linux® machines shifted the market towards more heterogeneous system environments. While ideal for legacy on-prem, Windows-centric IT, AD proved to be significantly less effective in modernizing organizations.

Directories, Present: Directory-as-a-Service

In response all of these changes (and subsequent challenges facing AD), a new generation of directory service has emerged: JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service. This cloud-based SaaS-delivered directory service platform is enabling users to connect to virtually anything that they need, streamlining the effort of MSPs and IT admins. Effectively, Directory-as-a-Service (DaaS) has reimagined Active Directory for the modern era.

It seems like a bold claim, but when asking why use Directory-as-a-Service, it’s best to look at its capabilities to understand the comparison. DaaS leverages the LDAP, SAML, and RADIUS protocols to authenticate users to apps, infrastructure, networks, and more, regardless of their provider, platform, or location. The cloud directory service also provides sleek system management to all major platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux) with cross-platform Policies that can be used to enable management fleetwide. Other key features include SSH key management, multi-factor authentication (MFA), VLAN tagging, and more.

A Future with Directory-as-a-Service

If you’d like to explore why you should use Directory-as-a-Service beyond this explanation, please contact us with your questions. Does DaaS sound like the directory for your organization? You can try JumpCloud for free, with ten users included forever.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a Product Marketing Specialist at JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, music, and soccer.

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