Google Workspace

How to save money on Google Workspace licenses with Cloud Identity Free

by Sascha Picchiantano |
2 min read |
Jul 21, 2022

Did you know? Not every Google Workspace user has to be a Google Workspace user.

Wait. What?

Yep. That's right. Google has another tool under its umbrella, called Cloud Identity, that can be used to create user accounts in Google Workspace. And best of all, it's free, as in free beer.

Let's start from the beginning.

What is Google Cloud Identity?

Cloud Identity is part of Google's Cloud Platform (GCP). It's an identity as a service offering (IDaaS) that also serves as an enterprise mobility management product. It offers identity services and endpoint administration available in Google Workspace as a stand-alone product.

How to use free Cloud Identity user accounts with Google Workspace

Most people don't know that Cloud Identity user accounts can be used together with Google Workspace. Cloud Identity user accounts can be created from the Google Admin console and used inside of Google Workspace just like any other Google Workspace user.

What's the catch?

There is always a catch. While Cloud Identity user accounts can be used with Google Workspace, certain limitations make the whole thing not viable as a complete Google Workspace user replacement. Of course. After all, Google Workspace is a paid product. But read on.

Here is how Google describes it:

Cloud Identity Free edition includes core identity and endpoint management services. It provides managed Google Accounts to users who don’t need certain Google Workspace services, such as Gmail and Google Calendar. However, users can access Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Keep, and Meet. You can use Cloud Identity accounts with other Google services, such as Google Cloud, Chrome, Android enterprise, and many third-party applications.

So, in other words, you can use (free!) Cloud Identity user accounts for almost everything in Google Workspace except the core products like Gmail and Calendar.

Google Cloud Identity Services

What are some use cases, and how does this help me?

You can save money on Google Workspace licenses, that's how. As long as you can live with the limitations, that is. Here are some actual, real-world use cases where leveraging Cloud Identity in a Google Workspace context makes sense:

Google Workspace Administration

Instead of using (and wasting) a standard Google Workspace user license to manage your Google Workspace account, you could use a Cloud Identity user.

From a security perspective, this is even best practice. You shouldn't use your regular user account for privileged actions (like administrator stuff). Remove the super-admin role from your user account and use a separate, free cloud identity user instead.


Do you often have interns work for you? Or maybe students from the university work for you on a trainee basis? If they don't need to write emails or create content, and all they need to do is maybe participate in Google Meet team meetings or proofread some documentation, they don't need a complete Google Workspace account. A free Cloud Identity user might be sufficient for the job.

Partners and Customers

Ever wanted to securely share a Google Doc or another file from Google Drive with an external partner or customer only to find out they don't have a Google account?

You could share it "with anyone who has the link, " which would make it publicly available on the Internet. You could also ask your customer to create a Google account. But who wants to put that burden on their customers? There is a better way:

With Cloud Identity, you can create free accounts for your partners and customers, allowing them access to your shared files and documents. Since Cloud Identity user accounts can access Google Drive and Google Docs, you don't have to pay a dime for that. Beautiful!

Service Accounts

Did you ever connect other services to Google Workspace? Or had the requirement to set up Google's SMTP-Relay service with strong authentication? I think you get the idea... use free Cloud Identity user accounts for that and save some money in the process. And again, you're following security best practices with this approach.

How to get started with Cloud Identity

If you decide to try Cloud Identity Free, you need to first add it as a service to your Google Workspace. Go to your Admin Console, Billing and click "Get more services". Select Cloud Identity, click on the Cloud Identity Free card, and follow the instructions.

Admin Console Get More Services

Once you have "purchased" the free edition, you can add new users as you usually do. Instead of assigning the new user a Google Workspace license, give them a Cloud Identity license. That's it.

If you have set up your Workspace to automatically assign licenses to new users (the default setting), you want to turn that off first.

Documentation from Google

Follow this link to get detailed, step-by-step instructions directly from Google on how to set up and use Cloud Identity with Workspace.

If your Workspace account is from a reseller or Google partner

If you purchased your Google Workspace account from a reseller or Google Cloud Partner (like Cyrrus Cloud), you can't add Cloud Identity Free to your account on your own. You will have to contact your partner, who will provide it for you.


We hope this article helps you save some money on Google Workspace licenses. If you need a hand with any of this or have questions, we're always just an email or phone call away.

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