OpenLDAP is a free implementation of the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). As an open source solution, OpenLDAP has provided technical personnel with the ability to integrate and customize the platform to suit their organization’s specific needs since the late 1990’s. Today, with so many solutions being delivered from the cloud, IT admins often wonder if OpenLDAP as a service is available.
The short answer is that LDAP-as-a-Service is a core component of the JumpCloud platform, but before we describe how OpenLDAP as a service can benefit modern organizations, we must first outline why IT organizations want a hosted OpenLDAP solution to begin with.
OpenLDAP as an Obligation
It all began when our advisor, Tim Howes, and his colleagues at The University of Michigan created the LDAP protocol in 1993 as a means of securing decentralized IT. It was a time when Microsoft owned just about every corner of the IT market and everything was on-prem.
Two core solutions would eventually be derived from LDAP. The first, of course, was OpenLDAP. The other followed shortly thereafter from Microsoft, which combined LDAP and Kerberos, and was called Active Directory®.
Active Directory would go on to become the most dominant directory service platform for many years, due primarily to the fact that Windows-based IT solutions were already dominating the enterprise space. However, OpenLDAP was also highly successful where Linux or different flavors of Unix were in use, like in data center implementations.
OpenLDAP had the benefit of being highly flexible in that it could connect with just about anything leveraging the LDAP protocol (i.e. systems, servers, storage devices, applications). Adding LDAP authentication with OpenLDAP was also relatively straightforward for non-Windows based IT resources. The result was that IT admins and DevOps engineers would often add an OpenLDAP instance to assist with managing user access to their technical infrastructure.
The challenge with OpenLDAP has always been that it is difficult to implement and maintain – often requiring a high level of technical expertise, time, and maintenance to function properly. IT organizations often need highly technical personnel dedicated to maintaining the OpenLDAP infrastructure (Read more...)