IAM (Identity & Access Management) today is at the core of enterprise IT infrastructures when it comes to protecting digital corporate assets. IAM, as the name states, is about managing identities and their access. This involves managing user accounts and their entitlements as well as their access across the variety of systems and applications in use in organizations.
Over the past several years, organizations have been facing multiple changes affecting their security posture. The perimeter which separated the internal network from the outer world does not have the same relevance it had before, with mobile users accessing internal systems, with integrating business partners and customers into business processes, and with the shift to cloud applications. On the other hand, the value and relevance of digital corporate assets and intellectual properties have increased. With the shift to connected things and to smart manufacturing, digital assets are becoming “crown jewels” even for more traditional businesses such as mechanical engineering.
Protecting digital assets, the systems, and applications in an IT environment of growing complexity and of a hybrid nature while facing ever-increasing attacks, involves several actions organizations must take. Protecting against internal and external attackers requires a well-thought-out understanding of risks and countermeasures.
Among the core elements of every infrastructure, we find IAM. IAM done right ensures that identities, their user accounts and passwords, and their access entitlements are well-managed and that authentication works as expected. IAM thus reduces the attack surface by helping organizations moving towards the “least privilege” principle. IAM provides the tools to automate processes around managing users and access entitlements, but also for regularly reviewing these and identifying, e.g., excessive entitlements.
On the other hand, IAM also plays a vital role for business enablement, when it comes to the need of employees, contractors, business partners, and customers to access certain applications, systems, and data. Beyond that, there is an emerging demand for supporting things (IoT) and devices, specifically when creating new digital services.
IAM is the tool for implementing the workflows and automated processes for onboarding users and granting them access. Again, if done right, IAM can enable organizations by optimizing the onboarding and change processes, but also ensure that entitlements are revoked, and accounts are deleted or deactivated once they are no longer required. Moreover, IAM also manages access at runtime.
Over the past few years, we have seen a convergence of traditional IAM deployments that run on premises towards IDaaS. IDaaS is one of the fastest growing market segments of IAM characterized by cloud-based delivery of traditional IAM services. The market, driven largely by web-centric use-cases in its early days, now offers full-fledged delivery of IAM capabilities irrespective of application delivery models. The IDaaS market has registered significant growth over the last few years primarily driven by the need of organizations to achieve better time-to-value proposition over on-premises IAM deployments. IDaaS solutions offer cloud-ready integrations to extend an organization’s IAM controls to meet the security requirements of their growing SaaS portfolio.
The IDaaS market has evolved over the past few years and is still growing, both in size and in the number of vendors. However, under the umbrella term of IDaaS, we find a variety of offerings. IDaaS in general provides Identity & Access Management capabilities as a service, ranging from Single Sign-On to full Identity Provisioning and Access Governance for both on-premise and cloud solutions. These solutions also vary in their support for different groups of users - such as employees, business partners, and customers - their support for mobile users, and their integration capabilities back to on-premise environments.
Modern IAM architectures focus on a consistent delivery of the required capabilities in an integrated manner, across the areas of IAM such as IGA (Identity Governance and Administration, i.e. Provisioning/Lifecycle Management and Access Governance) or Access Management (Federation, Authenticaton, etc.), and covering all types of identities. This concept of Identity Fabrics, defined by KuppingerCole, helps in setting up a consistent IAM infrastructure and might leverage one or few central (IDaaS) services for delivering the main capabilities.
Amongst the very first vendors in the market to consequently pick up the concept of Identity Fabrics is Accenture Memority. They provide an IDaaS solution with a broad range of IAM capabilities, full support for all types of identities including things in the IoT, and a consistent, comprehensive Identity API layer.