How to Choose the Right IAM Solution [For Managed Service Providers]
MSPs are looking for a wide range of IT management tools, and in an evolving IT landscape, it’s important that their product stack satisfies the variety of client needs for the modern office. A core decision for MSPs is what kind of directory should be at the foundation of their clients’ IT infrastructure to securely and efficiently manage user identities and access to resources. To that end, we’ll discuss from an MSP’s perspective whether JumpCloud or Azure Active Directory is a better fit.
Fit is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, and each identity management platform has benefits that may suit an MSP and its clients according to particular industry requirements or existing IT infrastructure. Still, there are certain core capabilities that should underpin any worthwhile IAM solution. Before deciding whether JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service or Azure AD is a better fit for a specific use case, it’s worth taking stock of these fundamental needs and how they combine to form the basis of modern identity management.
Modern Identity Management
Modern identity management is the core around which secure, reliable IT infrastructure is built. IAM tools manage and connect users to their IT resources including systems, applications, files, and networks — often regardless of platform, protocol, provider, and location. In short, a modern directory service is a primary control point from which an MSP manages a client and that client’s high-level workflows.
Core Requirements an MSP Should Consider When Selecting an Identity Management Platform
The following criteria can serve as a baseline for comparing modern IAM solutions.
1. Management Efficiency
MSPs need tools that can centralize management of their clients. On-prem solutions, or those that require individualized management on a client-by-client basis, can add a great deal of overhead. Further, an MSP’s identity management solution should have deep management capabilities for all of the types of systems that their clients use (e.g. Linux, Mac, Windows).
MSPs can have a wide range of clients. Some use AWS while others use Azure. Some use Macs while others like Windows machines. MSPs want to give their clients the freedom to use what is best for their organization while also making it easy to manage everything.
In the modern era of IT, open systems and protocols are critical. MSPs are tasked with making a wide range of platforms and systems work together. That can only happen if the systems incorporated into their product stack are open and can easily integrate with others.
Whether an MSP is passing the costs along to their customer or absorbing the costs within their monthly fee, a cost-effective solution is paramount. MSPs are the eyes, ears, and brains of their clients, so making sound financial decisions is critical in earning those clients’ trust.
While these four requirements are broadly universal, you may want to add to this list when considering which cloud identity and access management platform is best for your organization and clients.
Comparing Azure AD & JumpCloud Use Cases
With the above requirements in mind, let’s consider the scenarios where each IAM platform shines. For Microsoft Azure Active Directory, there’s no mystery. Azure AD is excellent for organizations that are extending their on-prem AD identities to Azure solutions—i.e., Azure compute services—and are, generally, all Windows® shops. For those interested in using Azure AD without an on-prem DC, Azure AD looks a lot like a user management platform for Azure services that can also authenticate Windows 10 devices.
With Azure AD as the cloud complement to the on-prem Active Directory platform, it can be ideal for clients who have significant investments in Microsoft technology without an interest in other popular emerging platforms.
Example Client Use Case for Azure AD:
- Heavily invested in Microsoft AD and/or Windows servers on-prem
- Utilizing Azure compute services
- Tied to Microsoft-based technologies (Sharepoint, SQL Server, etc.)
- 100% Windows laptops/desktops
If Azure AD can be thought of as being optimized for Windows-only environments, then JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service platform is the cross-platform alternative. JumpCloud’s cloud identity provider is optimized for heterogeneous environments where macOS, Linux, AWS, G Suite, NAS appliances, and any number of other non-Windows solutions are present. And that doesn’t mean JumpCloud doesn’t work well with Windows, O365, or Azure. In fact, MSPs can leverage JumpCloud’s cloud directory in situations where all of these various platforms are utilized and integrate with Azure AD.
JumpCloud’s platform provides GPO-like policies across all three major platforms (Windows, Mac, and Linux), ensuring that IT admins can deeply manage and control their clients’ systems. Additional cloud-delivered capabilities include hosted LDAP, virtual RADIUS, Samba file server integration, SSH key management, and more. For situations where an MSP’s clients need more than just Microsoft-based solutions, JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service platform is an excellent solution. In fact, many MSPs use JumpCloud as a complete replacement for Active Directory, Azure Active Directory, and Intune.
Example Client Use Case for JumpCloud:
- Multi-Platform: Mac, Windows, & Linux
- G-Suite / Office 365, AWS / GCP
- Remote Workers or Multiple Office Locations (no need for VPNs)
- Cloud-focused and security conscious
- Looking to eliminate on-prem infrastructure (e.g. Windows Servers, Microsoft AD, etc.)
Learn About JumpCloud’s Partner Program
Visit our Resources Page to continue exploring more helpful content tailored specifically for MSPs. Categories include understanding JumpCloud, comparing JumpCloud with other products, testing JumpCloud, the go-to-market playbook, and implementing JumpCloud at client sites.
JumpCloud’s Partner Program empowers MSPs with central identity management from the cloud. Fine-tuned for MSPs with cloud security offerings and/or clients moving to the cloud, Directory-as-a-Service can be easily bundled at the center of any product stack to make customers more secure, efficient, and scalable. Make Work Happen™ for your clients while improving the bottom line for your business.