Monday, November 23, 2015
Interview with Rajat Bhargava, JumpCloud
If you're an enterprise company, eager to jump into the cloud, it's tough to fully move your applications, systems, and other infrastructure into the cloud due to many legacy components—including such things as Microsoft's Active Directory. To solve that problem, Boulder-based JumpCloud (www.jumpcloud.com) has created a cloud-based product which replaces Active Directory, a key component of many enterprises for managing user logins and passwords, application and computer access, and more. We recently caught up with Rajat Bhargava, the company's CEO, to talk about what the company is doing.
What is JumpCloud?
Raj Bhargava: What JumpCloud does, is securely connects users to the IT resources they need to access. Basically, it's a platform, a directory-as-a-service, which enables companies to give their employees access to devices, to applications, and to the network.
Explain what directories are to those who aren't familiar with them?
Raj Bhargava: The non-technical explanation, is it helps a user access whatever IT resources they need, including their computer. When they log into their computer, application—on premise or in the cloud—is generally controlled by a directory. How they connect into a Wi-fi network is often connected to a directory, too. So, think of a directory as the core database of user credentials. People log in using a username and password, which are stored in a directory, and get access to different types of devices and application. That directory checks if a person has the right username and password to log in, and beyond that, also might use multi-factor authentication.
Why wouldn't someone just use something like Microsoft Active Directory and LDAP?
Raj Bhargava: The difference is, those were create 20 to 25 years ago. Over that time, those two solutions have become the dominant players in the market. One is open source, OpenLDAP, and the other is Microsoft Active Directory. Microsoft's product is far and away the market share leader, and has been for about fifteen years. But, those existing directories are antiquated. They weren't build for the cloud era, and for companies that are cloud forward. The major difference that we deliver, is that we make directories work in the modern era. We connected modern devices, including Macs and Linux devices, and we connect to modern applications, whether they are on-premise, or in the cloud. We integrate with Wi-fi networks. All of this is relatively recent, and over the last five years has become mainstream. Those old directories were never intended to work this way. That's the main reason our customers use us, to integrate with modern, IT infrastructure which exists in a corporation today.
How did you start the company, and get into this specific area?
Raj Bhargava: We saw a need in the market for security and user management, which is where we started. As we built our product, it ended up taking off, and more and more customers can and asked us to expand our user management product instead of just focused on the server market, where we had focused on initially. They wanted to manage desktops, laptops, internal machines, applications, and their Wi-Fi networks. It's been following those customer requests asking for those capabilities, asking us to centralize all of these IT resources and management in one spot. That's how we became to be a directory-as-a-service.
What were you doing before Jumpcloud?
Raj Bhargava: I have been starting and running businesses since college. Jumpcloud is the eighth venture I've started.
What's the most important thing you've learned from those eight startups?
Raj Bhargava: The list is a really long list. You just keep on learning more new things. I think, with your first startup, there are many thing you're learning for the first time, but as you to things over an over again, it becomes much easier. You learn a lot of lessons around working with people, focusin on the right portions of the product, and how to do sales and marketing. Every single one of those things are a great learning experience.
Finally, what's next for you now?
Raj Bhargava: We're continuing to build out our directory as a service platform. We're working with a lot of customers, and continuing to grow our business. Over the sumer, our integration with Google Apps was very exciting, because Google apps has grown tremendously over the last five years. Many, many organizations are looking at Google as a replacement for Microsoft Exchange. However, when you replace Exchange, there hasn't been a corresponding replacement for Active Directory. Many companies want to replace Exchange, but they still need Active Directory. With our platform, as a directory-as-a-service, and our integration with Google Apps, that allows companies to get rid of both Exchange and Active Directory, and fully move their companies to the cloud.