Technology

Understanding Cloud LDAP for Your Business

Understanding Cloud LDAP for Your Business

New technology that businesses utilize comes out all the time. Some forms seem critical across a broad spectrum, while others only apply to specific industries or niches. For instance, many companies need mobile apps now since mobile phone use is more widespread than ever before.

Then, there’s something like cloud LDAP. We’ll talk about what that is in this article, and we’ll also go over which industries should use it.

What is Cloud LDAP?

As we get into a cloud LDAP overview, you should realize that it’s mostly IT professionals who know what this is and what it does. If you walk up to a random person on the street and ask them about it, they may not have heard of it. This indicates that this is fairly niche technology. That does not make it any less useful, though.

LDAP means lightweight directory access protocol. It is an industry-standard application service. It is vendor-neutral and open. You use it to maintain and access distributed directory information services across an internet protocol network.

Adding the word “cloud” to the equation means that you’re talking about LDAP as a cloud-based employee directory and user credential protocol. LDAP has been around since 1993, and it’s still quite popular today. The fact that you can use it in the cloud is part of what has allowed it to endure.

Using LDAP in the Cloud

Let’s say your business likes the secure LDAP model. You can use a cloud directory as an LDAP server. You can use it for directory lookups. You might utilize it for authorization and authentication tasks as well.

This secure LDAP form lets you reduce the traditional directory server footprint. Instead of pointing your apps to several directory servers, you instead point them only to the secure LDAP protocol. This simplification benefits your security, and there’s a convenience factor as well.

LDAP User Authentication

Many companies who like cloud-based LDAP technology appreciate the process through which they can validate a password and user name combination when an employee logs in. They use it with a directory server like OpenDJ, OpenLDAP, or MS Active Directory.

These are all out-of-the-box solutions, meaning you can buy them for your business and set them up without too much difficulty. Your IT department knows how to do it. If you don’t have permanent IT members, you can also hire a freelancer to handle that for you.

You can also customize these directory servers somewhat depending on your business model. They use open-source tech, meaning you can modify them as you see fit.

What Else Can the Cloud-Based LDAP Model Do for Your Company?

You might also want to look into cloud-based LDAP because you can use it to store user or group permissions and information. In other words, you can use LDAP to trace who’s accessing your network and resources. If you ever feel like there’s a hacker probing your defenses, this is a way you can easily track their activities and lock them out.

If you use the cloud-based LDAP model, you might decide to set it up and utilize it along with Google or another popular search engine. Authentication is easy when you use LDAP protocols as a base, and you involve the cloud at the same time.

What Businesses Should Use Cloud-Based LDAP?

All sorts of businesses and organizations use LDAP, and many of them have done so since it first appeared back in 1993. Importers and exporters use it, as do manufacturers. Essentially, any company that needs a username and password verification that they connect with a directory service will install LDAP, and many times, they use the cloud-based model.

Is Cloud-Based LDAP Easy to Install?

Installing LDAP is not as hard as you might think, even if you’re not in the IT field. Usually, you simply start by opening a terminal window. You can then update the apt with the command “sudo apt-get update.”   

Then, you wait for the update to complete, which might take more or less time depending on your connection speed and reliability. You then install LDAP with another simple command and give the installation a little more time to take effect.

At that point, you’re ready to go. You will soon see the cloud-based LDAP benefits that make this protocol such an enduring favorite.

How Much Does It Cost?

Of course, cost matters when you’re running any business. LDAP might appeal to you and your IT department, but there are very few free options.

There are some free LDAP server software solutions. The problem is that you still need the physical server hardware. That can cost anywhere from $4K to $20K, on average, depending on your business model.

If you go with cloud-based LDAP, though, you will not need those physical servers. This is undeniably one of the reasons why so many businesses are going with this model now.

LDAP Going Forward

There are some technologies that don’t seem to ever go away entirely, and LDAP is one of them. Whether you prefer to get LDAP servers or you want the cloud-based model, many businesses feel like they can’t function without it.

Talk to your IT department about LDAP. They can explain more about what it can do for your business and also whether the cloud-based model is the superior option or whether you’ll want the older-style LDAP with physical servers.

Server authentications like Linux use LDAP, which indicates how valuable it still is. If you ever need to authenticate open-source technological solutions, no protocols really exist that can replace LDAP or do a better job.

There might someday come a time when businesses will no longer need the cloud-based LDAP or the older, server-based model. It is not likely that will happen anytime soon, though.

It’s rare for a technology form to stay relevant for so long, but LDAP seems to be one of those that continue to withstand time’s test. LDAP, particularly the cloud-based model, is very much alive.

About the author

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Mike K. Watson

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