SaaS IdP: Software-as-a-Service Identity Provider

SaaS IdP Software-as-a-Service Identity Provider

The concept of a SaaS IdP (Software-as-a-Service Identity Provider) is a potential game changer for cloud-forward IT organizations. This is because the identity provider has traditionally been a complex on-prem solution like Microsoft® Active Directory® (AD) or OpenLDAP. Fortunately, a powerful new SaaS IdP has emerged that is effectively AD and LDAP reimagined for the cloud.

In short, the powerful new SaaS IdP is called JumpCloud Directory-as-a-Service®. This cloud based identity and access management (IAM) platform can be advantageous for a number of reasons, but first, we should discuss the importance of the identity provider from a holistic perspective.

Characteristics of the Identity Provider

SaaS IdP vs Legacy IdP

Identity and access management is a foundational area for any IT organization. This is because the core task of IAM is to securely connect users to the IT resources they need to access. Directory services, which often act as the central identity provider, are designed to help IT admins accomplish this task.

The modern era of directory services kicked off with the advent of LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol). LDAP was created by our advisor, Tim Howes, and his colleagues at the University of Michigan in 1993. Howes told us they created LDAP as a means to secure the decentralized IT environments that were common at the time.

Two powerful directory service platforms emerged from LDAP a few years later. The first one to arrive was OpenLDAP in 1997. The other solution was Active Directory, which combined LDAP with the Kerberos protocol to provide user and system management capabilities for Microsoft IT resources, circa 1999.

Of course, IT admins already know that AD has been the primary on-prem IdP for almost twenty years now. However, IT organizations have seen diminished returns as newer and more powerful alternatives continue to enter the identity management space. Then, when you factor in the rise of Mac and Linux, cloud applications like Salesforce and Dropbox, cloud infrastructure like AWS and GCP, and plenty more where that came from, it becomes obvious that legacy IdPs will be obsolete in the near future.

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*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from JumpCloud authored by Natalie Bluhm. Read the original post at:

Natalie Bluhm

Natalie is a writer for JumpCloud, an Identity and Access Management solution designed for the cloud era. Natalie graduated with a degree in professional and technical writing, and she loves learning about cloud infrastructure, identity security, and IT protocols.

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