Win the Identity & Access Management (IAM) challenge with the cloud
It’s no breaking news to say that IT organizations are facing their generous daily dose of challenges: While being (or asked to be) at the forefront of innovation they have as well to ensure daily operations, solve incidents, cut costs, offer flexibility and mobility, answer other departments needs (or take the risk of seeing some IT-Shadowing around), build and maintain IT infrastructure, etc. Part of the answer to this long, and non-exhaustive, list has been found in turning to cloud services and mobile apps that help boost productivity, enhance user experience and save some money in the process. As strong advocates of IT and Service Transformation with the Cloud, we see it very positively but our experience shows as well that while cloud solutions come in handy to accelerate, innovate and transform, they make managing user identities and access to IT resources more important than ever. In other words: it’s now a crucial task to manage access to applications and data by internal users and external partners from multiple devices and locations, without compromising security.
To elaborate on the matter, the rise of different types of accounts and identities such as cloud, mobile and other devices, e-commerce, and social networks has asymmetrically complicated things. Cloud, mobile, social, and personal networks have types of identities, platforms, services, and technologies not traditionally addressed by enterprise IAM. The result is fractured user authentication and authorization across applications and resources. There is not a single type of identity, identity token, or IAM that takes this into account. Identity management has very literally become identities management and, if not tackled properly, it soon becomes a struggle (I heard “nightmare”?) to keep up.
“I can’t see them all in one place”
In that context, IDG conducted a study (“IDG Research Services QuickPulse, October 2015”) and while they (should I say “unsurprisingly”?) found out that manual user credential management and security concerns due to lack of visibility into application access ranked high in the list of issues encountered, it highlighted 5 interesting challenges in the IAM neighborhood:
- Inability to create a unified view of customers/users;
- Customer/user dissatisfaction with the sign-on process;
- Security concerns due to lack of visibility into application access, threats to password security, etc.;
- Security concerns due to infrastructure and code vulnerabilities;
- Fragmentation of systems, user profile information, and user credential management.
The worst when reading the list are not the challenges themselves but the implications of those challenges: unability to create value and competitive advantage, hindering employees of performing at their best or security breaches to name but a few. An apocalyptic vision? Let’s not be that extreme but it should convince you that it is definitely not a topic to underestimate.
Win the challenge
So the question is how to properly manage identities – manage users credentials, quickly granting and revoking access to shared resource, and gaining visibility of who is accessing what – in an environment that is often made more difficult by legacy on-premise systems? A way forward could be to follow the 19% of the respondents to the above-mentioned IDG research that already moved identity to the cloud taking full advantage of Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS). Let’s face it, as strong Cloud advocates we may have a bias here but adopting IDaaS for powering digital business initiatives has multiple advantages:
- Centralization of identity management (Employee System of Record): view and manage user data mastered in Active Directory, LDAP, Workday, Google Apps, and more—all in one place.
- Better user experience: Single Sign-on, Social Authentication, etc.;
- Increased security: two-step authentication, centralized control, automated deprovisioning, etc;
- Regular upgrades: as-a-Service offering are regularly updated with new features;
- Scalability and agility of the cloud;
- Lower total cost of ownership.
When it comes to IDaaS, there are multiple solutions available on the market but at Fruition Partners we’ve decided to partner with Okta that has been named sole leader of the Gartner IDaaS Magic Quadrant. We like their approach, their tool and how they describe themselves as the foundation for secure connections between people and technology because even if technology has its part to play, people are an important component of Digital and Service Transformation.
If you’d like to have more information about Okta, or a more global conversation about IAM and IDaaS get in touch – we’re always up for a chat.