Exclusive Interview: Rajat Bhargava, Co-founder and CEO of JumpCloud

Last month Rajat Bhargava, the co-founder and CEO of JumpCloud contributed an article to CloudWedge on DaaS.  We were quite taken with this MIT graduate with two decades of high-tech experience. To date, Rajat is an eight-time entrepreneur with five exits including two IPOs, three trade sales and three companies still private. We interviewed Rajat to find out a little more of what he has to say.

Can you please give some background into who you are, and what JumpCloud does?

I’m an entrepreneur who has been starting and running companies for a number of years. I enjoy the process of creating something from scratch and working to grow it. JumpCloud is a nice example of that creative process. At JumpCloud, we are focused on delivering a Directory-as-a-Service (DaaS). We like to say, it is “reimagining” what Active Directory and LDAP are doing, but for the cloud era.

 What was the driving force behind starting JumpCloud?

My co-founders and I had been looking at changes caused by cloud infrastructure for some time. One area that stood out to us was user management. It seemed as though the new era of cloud had not driven changes to managing users and their security the way it has in so many other areas. So, we started digging into that space and learned that not only was cloud-based user management a growing need, but really the larger need was for a whole new type of directory service.

“Experience always helps. It is not sufficient for success, but it is helpful.”

We looked at the shift to Infrastructure-as-a-Service (e.g. AWS or SoftLayer), the movement to a more heterogeneous operating system environment, and a shift to Web-apps such as Gmail. What we found was really interesting – all of these major IT shifts require a new operating environment, and nowhere is that more evident than in directory services.

So, really, that was the driving force behind our discovery and focus on Directory-as-a-Service – securely connecting users to new-era devices and applications. If we can deliver on a reimagined directory, it will make life a lot easier for IT admins and more secure for their organizations.

As an eight-time entrepreneur with a number of successes, would you say that your past entrepreneurial experiences helped in establishing JumpCloud?

Yes, of course. Experience always helps. It is not sufficient for success, but it is helpful. In general, if you have started companies before, you start to see different methods that work and don’t work. You can’t just apply them without thinking of the context, but it does help and you are able to move faster. Also, I’ve found that after working with many others across different projects it’s easier now to build a team of trusted colleagues, quickly.

With the industry becoming increasingly crowded, what sets JumpCloud apart?

Overall, there are definitely more companies chasing the cloud tools space, but we think that Directory-as-a-Service is still a wide-open area. We are the first to come out with a cloud-based directory, so that is an exciting spot for us. Outside of directories, we really look at everything else in the general space as being complementary to what we’re doing.

What’s the one thing you would you like potential users to know about DaaS?

Mainly that there is a better way to deliver directory services. Just about every organization out there today is dealing with Macs, cloud infrastructure, or Web-based apps. Most would agree that trying to use AD or LDAP in today’s technology environment presents significant and ongoing challenges.

“The cloud has always invited conversations around security – and rightly so.”

Securely connecting their employees to IT resources doesn’t have to be as complex as it is currently. One of the most important areas an IT organization can invest in is their ability to deliver IT services to employees. Doing that securely and in a way that is seamless, whether the device or service is on-premise or in the cloud, is a powerful catalyst for employee productivity.

You recently contributed an article to CloudWedge titled, “Goodbye Active Directory, Hello DaaS.” How would you advise IT admins to convince executives within enterprise businesses to migrate to DaaS, despite growing security concerns for the cloud?

The cloud has always invited conversations around security – and rightly so. In the case of Directory-as-a-Service, I would advise IT admins to focus on two major areas – (1) how a cloud-based directory improves their control over the devices and applications that users access; and, (2) which security controls does DaaS provide relative to their internal ones. In our experience, in both cases, DaaS improves an organization’s security posture. IT organizations receive much tighter access control over every IT asset and can enforce better policies across the organization (e.g. multi-factor authentication on all critical devices or applications). Further, a hosted directory solution is going to include a number of different security mechanisms that not only protect credentials but also detect when they have been potentially compromised.

Since JumpCloud’s launch at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco two years ago, what would you say has been the company’s biggest accomplishment?

Delivering the first Directory-as-a-Service solution to the market is something we are proud of. It’s always hard to find a new space or create a new paradigm. Our team has not only done that, but also executed quickly to bring it to market first.