With the advent of the cloud, a new generation of technology has emerged – outsourced services that take advantage of the always-there Internet to do away with on-prem hardware and applications. Email, software, storage, and infrastructure – all of these IT resources have “gone cloud” in the last decade and taken advantage of the hosted services market. Now hosted OpenLDAP is finally an option for IT admins and DevOps engineers too.
In order to understand the benefits of a hosted OpenLDAP solution, let’s first take a look at how OpenLDAP came about and some of the challenges IT regularly faces with OpenLDAP.
OpenLDAP is the open source LDAP server market share leader. It was created in the late 1990s to work with the LDAP protocol, which was co-created by our advisor Tim Howes, and his colleagues at the University of Michigan. OpenLDAP has historically been an excellent solution for directory services, and has succeeded primarily in more technical environments. IT and DevOps engineers often use OpenLDAP with Linux systems and Linux-based applications.
Challenges with OpenLDAP
Despite OpenLDAP’s popular use among IT and DevOps engineers, it is not without its challenges. One challenge IT faces with OpenLDAP is that it is much harder to configure and use for Windows systems and applications. It is why most organizations need to end up using two directory services – Microsoft Active Directory® (AD) for their Windows related IT resources and OpenLDAP for Linux systems and applications. Of course, that doesn’t even begin to touch Macs – where neither OpenLDAP or AD excel.
Another challenge with OpenLDAP is that it is also difficult to implement, configure, and manage because of its extreme flexibility. That flexibility can be a huge advantage to some, but for most, they just want to leverage the capabilities of authentication rather than building directory services. Simply put, managing and maintaining OpenLDAP yourself is going to require the time and energy of a highly trained IT team member. This reason, above all others, is the reason why so many organizations are looking ahead to hosted LDAP solutions.