Why moving identity and access management to the cloud can deliver big benefits

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The business strategy called “digital transformation” has been part of the future plans of many organizations for years. Their goal was to take advantage of rapidly changing technologies to improve efficiency and drive growth.

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, strategic plans had to be urgently reviewed. The need to equip staff to work from home was a priority, as was finding new ways to meet customer demands.

As a result, many digital transformation strategies have moved quickly from planning to implementation. Changes that would have taken years were put in place in months, if not weeks.

In many cases, the results are impressive. Manual paper-based workflows have been replaced with digital equivalents. Documents and forms have been digitized and an infrastructure deployed that allows staff to work more efficiently from home.

There has also been a surge in the adoption of cloud-based resources that allow staff to access applications and data from any location, and collaborate with each other as needed.

Identity in the cloud

When implementing a cloud-centric strategy for applications, many organizations first turn to software as a service (SaaS). However, when it comes to important functions like user identity, which works as a platform on many other systems, things are often more complex.

When you plan to migrate your identity capacity to the cloud, there are unique challenges and significant opportunities. Because it is a hub of so many critical functions in an organization, it is essential to understand exactly how to move identity to the cloud.

Large, complex enterprises need to consider many things when looking for a reliable partner who can provide a cloud-ready identity platform that solves their complex multi-cloud and hybrid needs. The solution must be reliable, flexible and completely secure.

When considering an identity shift to the cloud, it’s important to focus on the main drivers of any cloud-centric initiative. These drivers include the need for:

Comply with management requirements to reduce costs and complexity

Reduce or remove the need to manage internal infrastructure

Activate upgrades happen effortlessly

Simplify configuration of common use cases

Improve overall user experience

Achieve fast recovery time

Lower risk thanks to the consistency of deployment

Meet pre-defined goals for scalability, performance and availability

When you consider these drivers, adopting SaaS alternatives becomes an easy decision. However, when it comes to identity, other considerations must be taken into account. They include:

Data sovereignty

Be comfortable with identity as a shared service

The level of control required over high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) policies

Whether the SaaS service level agreement (SLA) is sufficient

Have confidence in the security of the shared service

Efficiency in a multi-cloud environment. Can the considered SaaS solution meet the requirements for integration, user migration, legacy interoperability and customer experience?

The last point is potentially the most important. Choosing an identity solution that maximizes your identity capability, flexibility, and interoperability is critical to extracting value from the identity solution itself, but also from your larger digitization program. The right identity solution delivers a superior identity experience by:

● Integration with strategic systems that are at the heart of the digital experience (eg CRM)

● Provide the end user with an appearance that is both differentiated and aligned with the brand

● Simultaneously improve security posture while minimizing friction through the application of intelligent controls such as contextual MFA

● Provide a legacy interoperability that retains a quality experience in the interim

Delivering an identity experience that isn’t great can potentially undermine the entire value proposition of any digitization program. The importance of having a correct identity in a post-COVID world cannot be understated.

Take a DevOps approach to identity

Because of these considerations, companies with complex requirements are driving the growth in the trend to adopt DevOps for identity solutions. Businesses embracing DevOps in their IT organizations should consider leveraging containerized identity software to achieve their cloud-centric goals. This approach, coupled with orchestration, will help the organization achieve its cloud-centric goals in a manner consistent with DevOps practices.

Identity companies can help customers achieve their DevOps and cloud-centric goals with container technologies like Docker and Kubernetes. These technologies make it easy to deploy software to any cloud while simplifying software lifecycle management.

Some companies don’t necessarily have DevOps expertise, but are still looking for advanced identity services to achieve cloud-centric initiatives. This is where businesses should look for custom options that combine the benefits of advanced and highly configurable identity and access management capabilities while being enveloped in a dedicated cloud environment with data and resource isolation.

In addition, Identity as a Service (IDaaS) can help businesses researching cloud-based and subscription-as-a-service models for identity management. IDaaS can contain a range of services, but typically includes single sign-on (SSO), multi-factor authentication (MFA), and directory services that provide businesses with simple, cost-effective identity and access management capabilities.

There are huge benefits to using cloud-based identity services. Think about how this approach could be implemented in your organization to help you in this “new normal” world of work.

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