With the growing demand of business for tighter communication and collaboration with external parties such as business partners and customers, IT has to provide the technical foundation for such integration. Access Management and Federation are critical technologies for that evolution. They enable organizations to manage access both from and to external systems, including cloud services, in a consistent way. Organizations have to move forward towards a more strategic approach to enabling that integration.
Business demands support for both business processes incorporating external partners and customers. They demand access to external systems and rapid onboarding of externals for controlled and compliant access to internal systems. They request access to external services such as Cloud services. The use of mobile devices is also leveraged onto organizations as the changing workforce desires to work anywhere from any device. IT has to provide an infrastructure for this increasingly connected enterprise, both for incoming and outgoing access, both for customers and other externals such as business partners, as well as for existing and new on-premise applications, cloud services, and mobile devices.
Various drivers have led to this situation. At the core is the need for agility in a complex and competitive landscape. Business models have to adapt more rapidly than ever before. Supply chains include more suppliers and become increasingly more complex, with reduced vertical integration in manufacturing. Organizations also need to react more rapidly to new attack vectors that are continually changing. Customers today expect vendor’s systems to provide the intelligent access capabilities needed to combat these new threats than ever before. The changing workforce is also changing the idea that access to an organization’s resources can only be performed on-premises breaking down the traditional perimeter model. While organizations always had challenges of their changing IT environments, the density and pace of change have increased.
While Access Management technologies are well established, and Federation has also been around for years, there is tremendous growth in interest and adoption of these technologies over the past years. Customers – and specifically their business departments – are requesting solutions for emerging business requirements such as onboarding, customer access to services, access to cloud services, and many more. IT has to react and create a standard infrastructure for dealing with all the different requirements of communication and collaboration. In consequence, Access Management and Federation are moving from tactical IT challenges towards strategic infrastructure elements that enable business agility.
Technologies typically support both Access Management as a gateway approach, sitting in front of standard applications, and doing authorization for backend applications. Federation is strategically an important concept; however, the support of existing applications frequently favors the use of traditional Web Access Management. In addition, some Access Management solutions add features such as self-registration of users. Others also add Reverse Proxy capabilities. Support for standards such as OAuth 2.0 or OpenID Connect is just some of the examples for features frequently common for this type of product. Overall, the breadth of functionality is continually increasing.