JumpCloud leaps ahead with simplicity and speed, thanks to Google Cloud Platform

JumpCloud is a Colorado-based startup offering a Directory-as-a-Service (DaaS) solution that customers use to authenticate, authorize, and manage users, devices, and applications. They do it all easily via a common directory in the cloud, instead of through legacy, on-premises IT systems.

The startup centrally connects customers to the IT resources they need to do their jobs. These include on-premises devices or applications, such as laptops and wireless access points, and cloud-based services such as Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. Built for companies that leverage the cloud, use a diverse set of operating systems such as Mac OS and Linux, and/or communicate via Google Apps for Work, JumpCloud relies heavily on Google Compute Engine to keep everything working efficiently.

Challenge

Because clients rely on it as a central source for key functions, an infrastructure provider like JumpCloud must always be available and working—via any cloud service clients might use. “We’re looking to ensure that we have massive redundancy, and that we’re able to spin up virtual machines quickly and ephemerally if necessary,” explains Topher Marie, JumpCloud’s chief technology officer (CTO). “We have an instance that lives for a little while, serves some traffic, and then gets pulled down again.” As a worldwide service, JumpCloud also needs to work across different providers.

Solution

Google Cloud Platform wasn’t a large part of their directory solution early on, and the startup initially built DaaS almost entirely around another cloud-based service. JumpCloud then began moving toward Compute Engine in mid-2014, thanks to Cloud Platform for Startups. This program provides incentives and support for eligible new companies. “Google has a great infrastructure and great technology, but we never really took the time to evaluate their offering just because we had a solution,” says Rajat Bhargava, chief executive officer. “This program was a great incentive for us to take a look.”

The ease of using Compute Engine versus other services is “almost night and day,” Topher Marie says. “Google Compute Engine feels very integrated, very well thought out.” It’s easy to spin up the infrastructure and networks and make them intercommunicate, he adds. The firewall is intuitive and Google has a well-planned command-line interface. “You’re able to run these things and spin them up directly from your own machine,” the CTO says. “I’m very happy with everything that I’m discovering.”

Results

JumpCloud’s continuing transition to Compute Engine has been smooth and is accelerating. Their CTO had expected a steep learning curve, and needing to relearn everything he knew about infrastructure-as-a-service. “And I was very hesitant to download the command-line tool, because I didn’t want to learn another language to master how to make machines work,” he says. “What really surprised me was how simple it was.”

Google Cloud Platform saves JumpCloud significant time compared with other services. Bringing up a project now takes only two or three minutes. “I’m able to give authorization and access control to just the people I choose,” Topher Marie says. “I also have access across projects and even across billing groups. Google has created really astounding ease-of-use around the product.”

The CTO estimates that Compute Engine also reduces the time needed to set up a network of edge servers around the globe by 85 to 90 percent, saving the startup weeks of effort. And JumpCloud doesn’t need as many administrators working on infrastructure. “With Google Compute Engine, any of the developers, junior or senior, can go ahead and spin up whatever they need,” he says.

Compute Engine has proven so useful that JumpCloud is considering how to use other Google Cloud Platform services. “I will definitely spend more time with Google App Engine, and I am also very interested in Google Kubernetes Engine,” Topher Marie says. “I’m excited about all of the possibilities.”

Google Cloud Platform has steadily grown in importance to JumpCloud since the startup first tried it. “We have a multi-provider strategy,” Bhargava says, “but our center of gravity will be Google.”

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