This is a Canonical Question about Cloud Services replacing Active Directory.

Is it possible to use Google Apps or another Cloud Service as a replacement for a Windows Domain Controller (replacing my whole AD infrastructure)?

Specifically, I want to remove our dependence on a local Windows Server; currently it acts as a Domain Controller with File and Print Services. I'd like to seamlessly replace this server with something based on hosted applications. I do not just want to move the server to a dedicated or collocated server.

I have yet to figure out how to piece together printer/etc sharing. If anyone has any insight into this, it would be appreciated. The goal is to eventually move all my servers to the cloud then write up a case study on the whole affair.

  • I'm curious about this, since it would be a great feature for a business that has most/all of their users working remotely. – KJ-SRS Jun 14 '12 at 22:14
  • 3
    Be careful that hackery to make this idea work is not supported. Professionals do not engage in unsupportable hackery for their clients as Bad Things happen too frequently as a result. Be mindful to Read the Terms of Service. They almost always include something to the effect of "Not liable if your data is eaten by our servers". Data in "the cloud" is not always backed up. Even then a backup system/process should never be considered "good" until it has been tested via the restore procedures. – voretaq7 Jun 14 '12 at 22:30

No, Google doesn't currently offer this service. Even if they did, it's a not a very good idea to have all of your local authentication sources in the cloud.

Let's say that you do move all of your authentication to some cloud service. Now, imagine that your ISP has an outage. Now no one can log in, even though your local network is fine. That's bad. Even if you could cache the last x logons on each machine, any sort of outlage longer than a "blip" would be troublesome.

You also are asking about moving print and file sharing to the cloud as well. Google, specifically, doesn't offer this service either outside of maybe you adding a custom layer to the top of google drive for sharing. Most other cloud services charge for data transferred to and from their service. Imagine if every single print job had to traverse your network egress, go to this server, be spooled there, and then sent back to the printer on your local site? Your data transfer charges would start at double the size of all of your printed documents. Not to mention that if your ISP's connection is down, no one can print, even though the printers are in your office. Have fun explaining that to your co-workers.

The same problem that exists for authentication and printing exists for file sharing as well. Not to mention that you need to worry about regular off-server backups for file shares since users will delete important things that need to be restored.

tl;dr It's generally considered a bad idea to move local services like authentication and file\print management to the cloud. Don't do it.

Does it make sense for web, mail and things like that? Sure! Does it make sense to move "100%" to the cloud? Nope.

  • 3
    I'd upvote 100 times if I could. This needs to be a canonical answer. I've been called by so many really nice (and persistent) salespeople who were trying to talk me into switching to cloud services over the past year. My reasoning was exactly the same, it just doesn't make sense to put "office-related services" in the cloud. – Bigbio2002 Jun 14 '12 at 19:40
  • 1
    After a lot of research, it is actually possible to do this.. before I get into how in a formal response to this question that I asked, I want to reply to this answer in an edit to my question... – user124548 Jun 14 '12 at 21:54

It's not possible to replace your Domain Controller with Google Apps.