Identity Management for the Cloud
Last week, I listed several areas in which the adoption of cloud computing and mobile technologies can create new opportunities for expansion stage software companies (and venture capital investment funds).
One of these is identity and access management. Here are the issues:
- Even before cloud computing existed, SaaS was the only option. The adoption allowed enterprises to grow due to the benefits of public cloud computing for certain internal applications. Also, because many SaaS applications arrive mobile-ready, they are an even more attractive alternative to internal applications, which need work to become mobile-accessible. The more applications employees access over the Internet, the greater number of separate accounts are needed, with more passwords. This creates headaches for the employees, who now need to keep track of more user names and passwords, and need to spend more time logging in and resetting passwords. Furthermore, IT is now responsible to track these applications and their user lists separately, and to also add every new employee to all the relevant applications. Terminated employees will no longer have access to any applications.
- Consumer sites need identity management in the cloud solutions so it can scale and even burst with increased and spike usage, similar to the rest of the site if it’s hosted on a cloud.
- Both public and private clouds foster self-service for non-IT personnel, whether they are business users or application development groups provisioning IT resources to develop, test, and release their software. Granting non-IT users access to an IT provisioning layer denotes those users need more detailed, complex profiles with advanced permissions and policies based on their role, department, etc. These identities must be managed by IT and easy to change and track.
- Access to internal applications must be provided via mobile devices. IT needs more tools to manage mobile permissions to determine who can access and modify accounts via various mobile devices, and how that identity will be verified on lost devices that end up in the wrong hands.
As cloud and mobile become key components of business growth strategies, it is necessary for IT to address these issues. Software vendors are rewarded with a great opportunity to fill these needs.
For instance, Symplified and Nordic Edge are two emerging companies offering solutions that integrate access to third party hosted applications like Salesforce.com and many others into legacy identity management systems like Active Directory. They also provide single sign-on access to users.
A number of vendors are hosting identity directories on cloud infrastructure so that sites can effectively outsource user registration and identity management to them altogether.
At the same time, many of the private cloud management / enablement vendors constructed robust support for complex user permission management, linking access variables at very detailed levels.
Vendors such as Zenprise are tackling mobile device access by offering broader mobile management solutions.