Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Identity Management: Faces in the Cloud

Fischer solutions discussed in Campus Technology article “Identity Management: Faces in the Cloud.” Coppin State University CIO discusses why they moved from an on-campus solution to identity management in the cloud: speed, simplicity, security, cost savings, etc.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Cloud is a Great Answer for Identity Management at Small and Medium-Sized Organizations

By Dan Dagnall, Chief Technology Strategist

Small and medium-sized organizations (SMBs) face many of the same challenges and complexities as larger organizations, but they don't have the same resources to pursue solutions to their challenges. Identity management is a case in point as it can be very expensive, and the more custom the solution the higher the cost to deploy and maintain it.

SMBs are forced to get the biggest bang for the buck with strategic purchases primarily because revenue generation is not as predictable as it may be for larger, "more stable" companies in the Fortune 500. Given that there are many more SMBs than huge organizations, it is essential that SMBs are able to use an off-the-shelf approach to identity management, as building custom solutions is like trying to repeatedly reinvent the wheel for each SMB.

Building blocks
This is not to say that SMBs all need the same solution, but that the fundamentals of deploying such services do not change across industries, and SMBs can configure building blocks that already exist to handle the solution rather than creating custom solutions.

Traditional identity management has long been thought of as non-predictable in terms of scope of effort for deployment and maintenance, which doesn't scale well for limited budget, fixed-price constraints attributed to the SMB market space. Unlike some larger organizations, SMBs do not have the luxury of doing "whatever it takes" to provide the solution needed. SMBs need best practices with predictability, finite projects timelines with clear goals, and a finish line that doesn't move.

Typical identity management deployments cannot provide this level of predictability, specifically deployment models that start with a blank canvas and provide little direction other than which programming language you should use. These types of deployment models don't scale for the SMB space. The message for these types of models is, "you can do whatever you want when you write your own code." Sure, this is true, but only if you have a rather large budget for deployment consultants and even larger staff budget to support and upgrade the solution.

Cloud-based identity management
SMBs should consider cloud-based identity management as it can deliver required capabilities without the high costs of traditional script-based on-premise solutions. A cloud-based solution can accommodate the primary SMB drivers for procuring identity management: increase security, increase productivity and decrease cost.
"The cloud," as it has been coined, is definitely more than a potential cost-saving option at this point. It is the most impactful method to lower your operating costs while maintaining or improving service levels to your user community.
First, cloud-based services include the entire software stack, which may include automated provisioning, role management, self-service portals, self-service [automated] password reset, as well as audit/ compliance and governance controls.

Second, because it's a service, SMBs can subscribe to needed services, rather than licensing an entire product suite when requiring only a fraction of it to address specific needs. Simply outsourcing the administration around such a large stack of services can save significant staff (including help desk, as well as server administrators like DBAs, etc).

When you also consider the laundry list of infrastructure required to support the identity management stack as well as the operational hours associated with managing and supporting the infrastructure, the cost savings are clear. And let's not forget the expensive staffing to maintain any "glue code" that is required to actually provide value to your organization. All of it goes away in a cloud-based solution that provides customizable off-the shelf components needing no scripting.

In closing, identity management must be scalable for SMBs, but that doesn't just mean providing the ability to select required capabilities, but also scaling implementation and maintenance to be cost-effective for SMBs. Using a cloud-based solution that doesn't require any scripting or maintenance of 'glue code' is a best-practice approach for SMBs to achieve effective identity management.