The global pandemic has propelled the changes in the way we work and made foundational shifts in the inner workings within businesses. Remote work, cloud, mobile devices and the impending security threats also add to the change in the way businesses operate.
One of the foundations of IT for businesses is the directory service. For several decades, organizations of all size leveraged Microsoft Active Directory. But the decade-long reign is coming to a halt, challenged by the increasing switch of IT resources to the cloud.
We are seeing the changes many organizations are making in order to make their journey to an infrastructure that is fully in the cloud. Still, AD remains the most widely used directory service on the market. Despite its challenge to keep up with the modern IT environments, letting go of old habits proves difficult. Naturally, a question of whether there is a valid, and a better alternative to Active Directory comes to mind. Can a cloud solution such as JumpCloud directory replace it? Should you even replace it?
The short answer: yes. Cloud directory can absolutely replace AD. It can offer a solution that is better suited for the modern IT environments and address their current challenges.
While we already answered some of your most commonly asked cloud directory questions, we are now tackling how a cloud directory can replace AD. Additionally, we need to understand why businesses are even looking for its replacement, and why they should.
Why look for an alternative to Active Directory?
Not long after Active Directory came to the scene, web-based applications were introduced. Following in the similar groundbreaking steps were Mac and Linux systems that started replacing Windows workstations. Soon after, one of the biggest breakthroughs in computing happened — the cloud. AWS and other vendors were leading and revolutionizing the IT infrastructure, file storage, processing, development tools, and productivity suites.
During the time of AD reign, all workstations were Windows and on-prem. It wasn’t built to integrate with Mac and Linux systems, web-based applications and not to mention the cloud. As all of these new technologies and resources began to change the IT environment and the workplace, third-party solutions were introduced. They were designed to help Active Directory connect and work with them.
IT teams and admins found themselves in a situation of not using a single solution to manage identities and user access anymore. Now there is a plethora of other solutions to make it work on their network. This kind of setup ended up being complex, costly and tiresome for both IT teams and end users.
Furthermore, this kind of a setup doesn’t allow businesses to move from their on-prem infrastructure easily. Bottom line is that businesses that are locked up with an on-prem infrastructure are prevented from taking full advantage of a cloud IT environment.
A better alternative to Active Directory
Companies that started to leverage a cloud identity management solution have seen many benefits:
- No need to update hardware nor care what type of hardware their users have
- Software maintenance and patching is not a stepping stone in their daily tasks
- High availability and security
- Embracing variety of IT resources for a modern organization
- Flexibility in the terms of having an in-office, remote or a hybrid environment
To get back to our original question and answer: Yes, there is a better alternative to Active Directory. And yes, JumpCloud can replace Active Directory.
JumpCloud vs Active Directory
Whether JumpCloud is a replacement for Active Directory for your company depends on your current and projected environment. There are a couple of key factors that you should look at when comparing Active Directory and JumpCloud.
Support for different platforms
If you are a Windows shop, then sticking with Active Directory is the logical solution. If you have a mixed IT environment with Mac and Linux devices, you are going to struggle with Active Directory for device management.
Cloud computing can bring us to a conclusion that the type of devices don’t really matter and that cloud-based software and infrastructure is more important than the device. Still, it’s important to remember that the devices are what we use to access all of the critical tools and resources.
IT admins are in need of tools and solutions that support all major operating systems and devices. Cross-platform system support is one of the first reasons companies are looking to replace Active Directory with a cloud directory such as JumpCloud. JumpCloud offers support for all major platforms. This allows IT admins easy management and end users the ability to work with whatever device they want.
In the past, companies had their entire infrastructure on-premises. With cloud computing and all of the new apps and networks, many companies started to move their infrastructures off-prem and to the cloud. If your company still hosts most of its infrastructure on-prem, then you might not even need a replacement for AD. If you have started your journey to the cloud, then this is a good sign that an alternative such as a cloud directory will be more valuable.
Salesforce, Office 365, Google Workspace and other SaaS-based applications have made daily tasks for employees in many companies that much easier. Cloud hosted applications brought the benefits of reduced infrastructure, management and cost with their subscription based models.
Applications were once called programs, and IT admins would directly install them on the Windows systems itself by the IT team. SaaS applications on the other hand, run in the browser. This means that it doesn’t matter what device is used for these apps, as they are cross-platform. A cloud directory solutio like Jumpcloud covers a large variety of these applications, in addition to different operating systems.
Before the global pandemic, the gig economy was growing, and the workforce became a global one. Coupled with the pandemic, many companies now have employees that work from all over the world. With the many benefits of a global workforce, some challenges emerged.
Security concerns, productivity issues and little control over device and user access management have all been challenges companies with a remote or a hybrid workforce experience. All of these issues point to a need for a virtual identity provider that can manage, authenticate and control devices, regardless of their location. Active Directory struggles with the challenges the global workforce brings. Alternatives such as JumpCloud provide a cloud directory that modern and global companies need.
Learn more about how JumpCloud can replace Active Directory
Heterogeneity of your IT environment, type of infrastructure, workforce and resources dictate the right directory solution for your company. For remote or hybrid companies that have partially or fully transition to the cloud, a cloud directory is a logical next step.
If you are a Windows shop and want to stay on-prem, then AD will remain the right solution for your company.
ElephantHop, as a JumpCloud partner, can help you realize how a cloud identity management platform can support your company in the journey to the cloud. Schedule a meeting with experts and start your journey today!