Cloud creates new opportunities for IAM

by CXOtoday News Desk    Aug 19, 2013

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Cloud computing is expected to transform the identity and access management (IAM) industry. Experts point out being a disruptive technology, Cloud is creating both opportunities and challenges for the industry. In a recent report from Ovum: “Impact of cloud computing and identity-as-a-service (IaaS) on the IAM sector,” the research firm notes that cloud IAM is currently challenging the status quo within the IAM sector. Once it reaches maturity, it will have tremendous growth potential.

Security: A key challenge

Security continues to be a vital consideration in cloud-based IAM. Research reveals that almost 80% of businesses already make some use of cloud services. “Strategic as well as ad hoc adoption of cloud facilities is on the rise, presenting significant infrastructure, control and security problems. This is because services are often open at the point of delivery, and can allow anyone to sign up and create identities and passwords, while utilizing information systems that the organisation does not control,” Andrew Kellett, principal analyst for IT security solutions at Ovum. He believes that the increasing use of cloud-based services is driving the need for better and more interactive single sign-on (SSO) and federated identity management (FIM) facilities.

Saravanan Krishnan, Director, Platforms & Solutions Business, Asia Pacific, Hitachi Data Systems observes, mainstream IAM platform vendors can make a strong case for using their facilities to maintain secure access when moving between on-premise systems and cloud-based applications. Some are also reconfiguring their offerings to deliver IAM from the cloud.

Currently, as far as the market is concerned, its yet to mature, believe experts. “Some vendors have well advanced cloud strategies and others are just starting out,” Kellett points out. In this scenario, he notes business requirements are not clear, and both enterprises and their service providers have to clarify before moving to a cloud-based identity management service, the most important point being an understanding of the business requirements.

Agrees Krishnan. “CIOs should know what they plan to manage with IAM,” He states adding that by leveraging the expertise of the cloud IAM vendor, companies take advantage of economies of scale. Other considerations include understanding SLAs as well aligning the new identity management system to the cloud by synchronizing sources.

Abundant opportunities

Despite challenges cloud-based IAM will continue to gain momentum in the coming months. As Krishnan points out IAM no longer exists only behind the firewall, and the adoption of cloud applications and services has led some enterprises to consider IAM as a service, or cloud-based IAM, as an answer to their security challenges. He believes in the foreseeable future, enterprises will continue to make use of a mixed range of on-premise, hosted and cloud-based systems and services.

Kellett too believes that the cloud remains a source of opportunity for the IAM sector. A new generation of cloud specialists is challenging established approaches to managing identity, and are positioning themselves as offering a more flexible, easier to deploy, and cost-effective approach to managing identity from the cloud. Traditional platform vendors are also coming under pressure from a new generation of cloud-based specialists, he says.

“Their ability to operate independently as well as alongside existing IAM providers needs to be tested, as does the range, quality and,security of the bridging facilities and application program interfaces (APIs) currently available for delivering access to cloud-based applications” concludes Kellett.