I blogged several times about IaaS (Identity as a Service), last time only some two weeks ago. We will observe a strong increase in that field, the stronger the more people understand that IaaS is mandatory for the cloud. In our upcoming Market Report Cloud Computing 2009 (available starting tomorrow at http://www.kuppingercole.com/reports) we provide, first time ever, a stringent and valid structurization of the cloud market with all its different segments.
IaaS is part of this market, but it is as well a prerequisite for most other aspects of cloud computing. The more services you use in the cloud, the more you need IaaS and GRCaaS (GRC as a Service, just to create a new horrible acronym). How will you become ever compliant if you can't manage your identities and their access rights consistently in the cloud? That goes well beyond authentication. We will need approaches for a consistent policy management across different cloud services, which again will require new standards, going beyond what federation standards like SAML, authorization standards like XACML and other standards like the IGF (Identity Governance Framework) provide today.
The biggest threat in cloud computing is manageability. And within that field, the biggest threat by far is managing the identities, their authentication, the authorization and all the auditing stuff, to meet the business policies and rules defined within more advanced GRC approaches. Thus, within a cloud strategy the IAM strategy is a vital part, and a prerequisite for every successful move to the cloud. That is true as well when using only a few cloud services (or even only consuming some external web services in SOA applications) as for approaches where everything including IAM and GRC is moved into the cloud.
We strongly recommend to evaluate today's options for IaaS and their relationship to cloud strategies. By the way: European Identity Conference 2009 will be a great place to learn and discuss about this.