In Herman Melville's epic novel Moby Dick, a crazed mariner wildly pursues an unattainable beast with tragic consequences. So too can the pursuit of identity solutions that give visibility to and control over cloud, mobile, web, and legacy applications feel like a wild quest. To this end, many organizations following the general IT trend of "to the cloud," are looking to Identity as a Service (IDaaS) as a way of achieving greater things. Are there benefits here, or is this just an elusive white whale?
IDaas: White whale or fish that shouldn't get away?
IDaaS refers to any traditional on-premise Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution that can now be done through a cloud service or managed service provider. This can include your web access management (WAM), identity management system, provisioning and enrollment system, your cloud authentication engine, really anything that you would host on premise that somebody is now willing to do for you in the cloud.
Based on a comprehensive 2016 Kuppinger Cole survey, commissioned by Capgemini and RSA, here are three key findings that IDaaS can bring to the modern enterprise:
It speeds user enrollment and application integration. IDaaS has the potential to more quickly onboard users of all types and get new applications running quickly. Organizations expect their cloud identity vendors to be good at this stuff, i.e. apply best practices, and use well known standard integrations like SAML. This is where traditional on premise identity solutions have fallen down. 85% of the organizations rate the ability of cloud vendors to apply these best practices as critical or very critical for their success.
It facilitates reach to a far more diverse audience. Organizations want new types of users and devices to interact with them to expand their business reach, but don't necessarily want to manage all aspects of these users' profiles. IDaaS can help with this. 84% of the survey respondents consider such support for new users and devices to be a high or very high priority.
The future is adaptive authentication. Organizations recognize different users have different risk profiles and should have a contextual or risk-based assessment performed. This is true especially if you are an employee accessing sensitive information remotely...and from your own device. When asked how critical it is for the organization to have the means to authenticate users and control their access in a way that adapts to the actual level of risk and the context of the user (e.g. location or device), 94% state this as being critical or very critical for employee access.
Returning to the white whale theme, IDaaS doesn't have to be a scary mis-adventure. Done right, it can speed user enrollment and application onboarding, facilitate new users and devices in a way traditional IAM never could, and strengthen the assurance levels of users for great security. So don't be afraid to put your toe into the water - metaphorically - on this one. I invite you to explore the full results of the survey and draw your own conclusions on what IDaaS can mean for your organization.