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Authored by melinaden

Cloud Directory Disrupts Legacy Active Directory Monopoly

IT admins know that Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) has been a juggernaut in the identity and access management (IAM) category since the turn of the century. More recently, however, a new generation of cloud directory services platforms have been disrupting Microsoft’s monopoly in the legacy directory services space.

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As a result, IT admins can break free of Microsoft’s lock-in strategy and shift the heavy lifting of implementing and maintaining their IAM infrastructure to the cloud. In doing so, they can enhance security and accessibility while simultaneously reducing cost and management overhead. Let’s take a closer look below.

An Explanation of Active Directory Active Directory is a legacy directory services platform that was originally developed for on-prem networks of Windows®-based IT resources. An on-prem solution itself, AD comes bundled with the Windows Server® platform, Microsoft’s OS for enterprise server workloads.

Back when AD was introduced, IT networks were primarily on-prem and Windows-based, which is why AD quickly became a leader in the directory services space. Given the dominance of the Windows OS through the years, AD has remained the core identity provider (IdP) in most organizations since the turn of the century.

New IT Resources Emerge However, as a wide variety of non-Windows and cloud-based IT resources came to market in the early 2000s (and on into the present), IT admins came to realize that they were difficult to manage directly with just AD alone. Innovations such as macOS® and Linux® systems, web applications, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), G Suite, and even Office 365 and Azure® were difficult to manage directly with traditional AD tooling.

Some of the most powerful functions of the AD platform also did not extend to non-Windows resources. For example, Group Policy Objects (GPOs) are templated commands and scripts that enable IT admins to remotely configure policies on large groups of Windows systems at once, and from one centralized location.

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