Access or Identity? Or Authorization? Or Entitlements?

Recently, I had several discussions around terms like Access Management, Authorization, and Entitlements. And I thought about what is in the center – is it the identity or is it access management? Some weeks ago I mentioned in my blog that Hassan Maad, COO of Evidian, has stated that, from his experience, customers understand access while they have difficulties with the term identity. And when I go back some two years, there has been an intensive discussion of the so called “Identity Gang” about the term “identity”.

In fact, the management of access is the core business requirement. That is about authorizing access, it is about being entitled to do something. Thus, access management, authorization management, and entitlement management are terms which are used in the same context, with slight differences between them.

But: It is not only about allowing access, or authorization, or entitling. The questions are: WHO is granted access?  WHO is authorized to do something? WHO has which entitlements? There is always the “who”, the identity. With other words: These concepts are tightly coupled together. Authentication (proving the who) and Authorization (granting or denying access) can’t be separated. Which, by the way, becomes obvious when looking at the concept of federation.

And there are several other import aspects of the identity, including the approach of understanding core business objects as identities (and vice versa).

However, the concept of the identity is more theoretical and more complex than access, authorization, entitlements. Thus, it might be better to talk about “Identity and Access Management” instead of “Identity Management” – especially, because there are some technologies which are more related to identities and others more to access. At least until someone creates a better term which is understood by everyone and which replaces “Identity and Access Management”. GRC isn’t that term. But maybe someone has a good idea!?



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