Identity and access management (IAM) is core to nearly every modern business activity in large-scale enterprises, yet rarely is it considered of equal importance as other digital initiatives.
With so many other business priorities in the limelight, it’s understandable some organisations view identity and access management solely as the process of handling usernames, passwords and permissions - that so long as staff can log into day-to-day applications, systems and get what they need, it's enough.
IAM is far from ‘set and forget’ - especially if you want to future-proof your identity capabilities the correct way.
To streamline user access in a way that’s efficient, secure and automated, especially within enterprises with a growing number of users with varying access permissions needed to do their jobs quickly and safely, a lot more work and education is needed to get the full benefits of identity and access management.
The fact is the fundamental services that matter the most to enterprises are increasingly digital and cloud-based. These are applications and data managed outside of company networks and infrastructure, and fully accessible on any device from any location. The new realities of the digital transformation era demands enterprises improve and streamline their users’ access to these external apps and data by centralising their IAM processes in one place.
This is a modern business need that modern identity tools, or Identity as a Service (IDaaS) solutions, fully address.
So, how does it all work? And more importantly, why should you care?
For businesses still learning the importance of identity, this article will break down exactly what IAM encompasses; how new wave IDaaS solutions like Okta are making IAM for enterprise companies a lot less complex, much more cost effective and secure; and the top 3 benefits for your organisation when adopting a modern identity platform.
What does Identity and Access Management (IAM) really mean?
IAM is the ability of an organisation to effectively identify, authenticate and authorise individual users or groups and their access to specific information across the business – applications, data, networks and systems.
Properly configuring user permissions and restrictions on what organisational identities can access and perform - and controlling it in an efficient manner is the primary reason why good identity and access management is crux to a strong security baseline, especially for companies that have increasingly transformed to be digital-first workplaces.
With continuous digital transformation via cloud computing making it possible to have flexible access to applications and data anywhere at any time, it's crucial that enterprise identity is on the same level as our security efforts – which is what modern identity platforms provide to enterprise.
Having the right capabilities to safeguard your new adoption of cloud technology and protecting information confidentiality should be a business-critical objective for every organisation, no matter the industry, and the first order of business is to leverage solutions that manage both.
How is Identity as a Service (IDaaS) changing Identity & Access?
The way enterprise handles its identity and access look set to change from 2020.
The IAM space is forecasted to grow to $13.42 billion through 2022 on the back of a new wave of modern Identity and Access Management as a Service (IDaaS) solutions, which have risen to the occasion to make IAM a much less complex, costly and risky endeavour to overhaul. There's no better time for your business to begin the transition.
IDaaS are cloud-based identity services that allow enterprise admins to handle access management, core identity administration and security functions for both on-premise and cloud systems as part of a more structured lifecycle management process - and all in one streamlined platform continuously updated with new features and updates.
One of the top recommended IDaaS solutions on the market is Okta. Ranked as the market leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Access Management (August 2019), Okta’s SaaS-delivered Identity and Access Management solution includes Single Sign-On (SSO) and Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) which has overhauled identity authentication, protection and user credentials management for many cloud-first and hybrid enterprises today.
Deploying and realising the benefits of SSO, MFA and streamlined user provisioning are just three core elements of IDaaS solutions - but they’re big reasons why you should start paying attention to solutions like Okta if you want to get identity on track. Our consultants have listed the big benefits of modern IDaaS tools today, for your convenience.
#1 - IDaaS provides faster time to business value for enterprise
According to Gartner, IDaaS has significantly helped enterprises fill gaps in their IAM portfolios and staffing functions, helping them realise faster time to value (TTV.)
Enterprises save substantial costs and increase staff productivity with IDaaS systems, in big part due to their consolidation of core IAM functions and their in-built automation and synchronisation into one unified platform.
Instead of having multiple staff dedicated to handling traditional (manual) identity and access management processes, which are often fragmented into different departments (HR vs IT, as the most common and recurring pain-point) and not inclusive of the entire business’s user access and provisioning needs, IDaaS like Okta:
- Automatically integrate user data from multiple systems into key IT apps and systems
- Replaces multiple user credentials with one single identity, reducing complexity
- Syncs all user details - new, modified and offboarded - without manual changes needed
- Manage and control access and user permissions within one streamlined interface
IDaaS solutions also provide staff who may have previously managed legacy IAM systems and manual workflows with a more centralised, easy-to-use identity and access platform interface that both simplifies and brings together all their previous IAM processes (user onboarding, offboarding, permissions, credentials) into one easy-to-use tool.
Overall, IDaaS provides a far more consistent IAM process for enterprise to support their SaaS apps for multiple lines of business, especially those enterprises with disparate IAM infrastructures. While Gartner notes IDaaS is still evolving, market leaders like Okta offer full-featured, cloud-delivered IDaaS, with the kind of end-to-end identity and access management functionality that in the past has only been provided by IAM stacks managed on-premise.
#2 - IDaaS offers major cost savings for identity management
IDaaS solutions like Okta are proven to offer up significant cost savings for businesses that take the time to learn the in’s and out’s of what they have to offer across the board.
The reality is provisioning user identities on-premise with Active Directory Domain Services, and handling the entire onboarding and offboarding process as a manual workflow (syncing user data to AD, then to enterprise apps, each and every time) is inefficient, risky if there’s a lack of consistency, and potentially very expensive.
Typically, you’re looking at having to pay for:
- Server hosting, maintenance and upkeep fees
- Software purchase, installation and troubleshooting expenses
- Time wasted fixing manual input errors for user identities between systems
- User data backup and recovery capabilities in case of asset
- VPN integration and monitoring of IAM systems for network security
Like most cloud-based, subscription solutions, IDaaS negates many of these costs because it manages many of these considerations for the business instead. There’s no servers to worry about, software tinkering or additional backup and recovery solutions to account for.
The very best IDaaS solutions, like Okta, consolidate costs down to just the service subscription.
With a modernised solution that ensures faster logins, reduced password resets and fewer support tickets for access due to automatically syncing all user data across all systems, the cost savings and overall return on investment (ROI) on offer is clear with the IDaaS solution model.
#3 - IDaaS ensures secure access, anywhere
Naturally, strong identity and security should be in place in any business to ensure users safely conduct work remotely at any time and on any device.
Digital transformation has increasingly enabled our workers to access data and perform their day-to-day work from any device, at anytime, anywhere. IDaaS makes it possible for your users to securely and seamlessly log into their accounts across core business apps and hardware without being limited to the office anymore and worrying about whether or not your user credentials have been updated by IT across the board.
Unfortunately, many organisations still use the traditional identity and access management tools they’ve used with their legacy on-premises systems - even when already on the cloud or with access to cloud-first identity services.
This results in several unnecessary pain-points that continue to persist. Some examples from our customers:
- Being locked out from accessing critical business apps while working remote due to lack of user account identity sync, resulting in high number of password resets.
- Identity properly synced for apps and services used on hardware in the office but not for use on remote devices, resulting in an inconsistent and not very seamless experience.
- Single Sign-On (SSO) & Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) isn’t implemented across the board, resulting in unintentional and intentional user account breaches for working staff.
Ultimately, IDaaS solutions like Okta are highly recommended to leverage automated AD password management, SSO, SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language), MFA and centralised reporting/auditing of all users’ access permissions. You get greater security and seamless access for all users wherever they work, saving time and reducing the risk of breaches.
IDaaS: Next key steps to realise a modern identity platform
As more organisations embark on digital transformation journeys, moving from on-premise infrastructure to cloud-based environments, IDaaS has rapidly provided new business value for both enterprise identity and security.
This is largely due to IDaaS's broad capabilities in user provisioning, identity proofing, fraud prevention, privacy management, and many more (SSO, MFA, etc) areas - and the fact that it's always continuously updating.
Getting started with IDaaS solutions such as Okta and leveraging its full lifecycle of capabilities is far more affordable and accessible than in the past, and more enterprises than ever are able to modernise their identity and access management to eliminate costs, improve productivity, reduce risk and enhance overhaul security.
However, it’s understandably a daunting task for companies without the expertise or knowledge to begin.
Consultancies like Xello are able to assist your journey to a modern identity platform with an in-depth assessment offer that takes into account your current identity posture and business drivers to help you determine which IDaaS solution is best-fit for your business needs. We also understand it takes time to transition - which is why we've created a free to download whitepaper on Top 3 Modern Identity considerations to help guide you on your journey.