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How a Cloud Directory can Enable a Remote Workforce

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The effects of digital transformation and the pace of technological advancements have created a new environment for employees and businesses. Employees can now work from anywhere in the world, whether they are at their home office or sunbathing on a beach with a laptop in hand. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up the office-to-remote transition which had equally good and bad consequences. The question of productivity, how to manage a distributed team and setting up new processes has left companies and IT admins under immense pressure. They are struggling to enact remote working environments and aling operations, often with the use of new tools. 

The shift to working remotely has also added pressure on businesses to modernize their legacy IT infrastructure, with on-prem identity and management solution (IAM) an important part of it. Cloud infrastructure has reached a point where enablement of managing remote workforce is not only possible, but a core function. 

Remote work in the old days

In the past, remote workers (a few that were) connected to businesses’ networks via a VPN. The devices, typically Windows, arrived to the employees already setup and pre-installed with all the necessary tools and systems. If something were to go wrong with the device, employees would have to send the device back or do sometimes complex interventions over remote desktop access solutions. A general timely and unproductive process on both ends.  

Some remote workers got used to this process as it was in the nature of their job. Others, when in a situation to work from home would find the process of setting their device for it a real hassle. 

New era of remote work

Introduction of cloud computing changed the way users connect to internal networks. Users connected to them less. With the growth of applications such as Slack, Salesforce, Github and productivity suites like Google Workspace and Office 365, users needed much more IT resources. But that increased need came easy as these new IT resources were all cloud-based. 

However, users still need to connect to the internal network, whether to change a password or configure the machine. Then, Windows was still the device of choice and Active Directory managed those users. With AD, IT admins can implement security mechanisms and control access to Windows-based resources. When it comes to cloud-based SaaS apps, AD and IT admins consequently, didn’t have visibility over them. 

Besides having the security hole that AD’s lack of visibility brings, there was also the challenge of heterogeneity of the IT environment. Companies increasingly adopted Linux and macOS systems and there were expectation from IT admins to manage this wide array of operating systems. It was also frequent with contractors that still needed access to company resources. They used their own device that didn’t have to be the vendor (Microsoft) enforced across the organization.

To support the new remote workforce, new identity and access management platforms have emerged.

Cloud directory to the rescue

As the IT landscape changed innovative directory providers created a new category of cloud services — the cloud directory. The core directory service was moved to the cloud and admins could easily connect and manage their remote workers. There was no need for complex tooling and VPNs to make their connection possible. 

This way, users didn’t even need to connect to on-premise networks anymore. They could access their IT resources in the cloud and admins could manage their devices from the cloud. Whether or not they were remote or in office, it didn’t matter. 

Furthermore, cloud directory services also integrated with all IT resources and operating systems. IT admins can use cloud directory services to unify identities everywhere they’re needed. They can additionally have control over workstations regardless of the OS they use. The limitations of AD are not present with cloud directory services. 

If you have some unanswered questions regarding cloud directories, refer to our post on Answering Your Most Asked Cloud Directory Questions.

JumpCloud and remote work 

JumpCloud is built for remote work. It helps enable remote workers to be their most productive self and IT admins to successfully manage them. 

JumpCloud as a Directory-as-a-Service, secures and ensures connection from end users’ workstations and their other IT resources. JC provides remote Windows, Mac and Linux device management via their system agent that remotely pushes new updates while systems are connected to the internet. IT admins can then use JumpCloud to monitor the system regardless of its location.

Onto authentication: a set of JumpCloud credentials is all a user needs to access their resources. Users can change their passwords directly from their systems, making password management easier and providing anti-phishing. And when there is a password change, it’s rolled out to all of those resources via an internet connection. 

You may have some resources still on-prem. JumpCloud can implement gated network access through their RADIUS-as-a-Service offering which integrates with most VPN providers. Multi-factor authentication further protects these VPNs.

When it comes to accessing other resources like the cloud infrastructure, users can access apps they need from their User Portal. JumpCloud provides single sign-on (SSO) for numerous web apps. 

For IT admins, they can do all identity management and access control through a cloud-based Admin Portal. This allows admins to manage users’ identities and what they can access regardless of their own, or users’ location. Additionally, admins can easily provision access to resources from the Portal and make remote onboarding not only possible, but also efficient. 

Looking for a JumpCloud consulting partner?

If you are interested in learning whether JumpCloud is the directory solution for you, allow us to help you weigh the pros and cons. You may even started your JumpCloud trial but need help seeing it through. Whatever the case may be, we have over four years and thousands of hours of experience working with JumpCloud customers. We can help evaluate, implement and fully manage your JumpCloud environment. Contact us to let us know how we can help you on your journey to a secure directory in the cloud!

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