IDaaS Pros and Cons

Written by Molly Murphy on August 23, 2022

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For the past few years, the business world has been buzzing over one phrase: “identity is the new perimeter.” In today’s IT environment of cloud ecosystems and Zero Trust, it’s certainly true. User identities are the key to Identity and Access Management (IAM) and Privileged Access Management (PAM). But as our business environments go more and more online, IAM and PAM have become correspondingly more complex to manage. 

This is where Identity-as-a-Service, or IDaaS comes in. IDaaS provides IT teams with a cloud-based single pane of glass from which to authenticate user access to a variety of resources. There are many benefits to implementing identity-as-a-service as part of your organization’s security posture…and a few things to consider before you do, too. 

Definition of IDaaS

Before we can get to pros and cons, let’s first get on the same page with what IDaas is. 

Generally, the IT community has referred to web application single sign-on as IDaaS. As time has passed, IT admins have realized that the concept of IDaaS should really go beyond user management for web applications, because their employees are using their work identities for so much more than just this IT resource.

Therefore, the concept of IDaaS has been adapted and reworked to be more all-encompassing. Today, there are modern cloud identity management solutions that can connect users to their systems, on-prem and web applications, cloud and on-prem server infrastructure, physical and virtual file servers, as well as wired and WiFi networks. Clearly, this more modern definition of IDaaS is a huge win for many IT organizations. With an IDaaS solution that supports this definition, they can centralize user access to virtually all IT resources, as opposed to just one. 

Benefits of IDaaS

IDaaS’s biggest advantage is how it’s able to consolidate identity management of multiple applications into one streamlined platform. Next-gen IDaaS securely connects users to virtually all of their IT resources regardless of protocol, platform, provider, or location. As a result, IT admins gain the agility, security, and efficiency that comes from being able to leverage a single pane of glass to run your entire IT environment. 

But Identity-as-a-Service offers even more benefits, like freeing up IT admins’ time, improved security, and the ability to choose the IT resources that make the most sense for your business. 

More Time to Focus on What Really Matters

When comparing IDaaS vs. IAM, IDaaS frees up your IT admins by allowing them to automate many functions they would have to do manually with a traditional identity solution. Managing your IT environment from a single pane of glass means you no longer have to suffer through piecemeal processes that are inefficient and prone to human error. Any unusual sign-on attempts or locations are immediately flagged and reviewed, and should a breach occur, an admin can revoke a device’s privileges without ever leaving their IDaaS platform. This increase in IT admin’s freetime gives them more leeway to handle complex tasks that cannot be done automatically. 

IDaaS provides a more streamlined, time-saving solution for employees, too. End users receive a single set of credentials that gives them access to all the applications and platforms they need. This single sign-on process creates fewer points of weakness for cybercriminals to get a foothold, and decreases password reset troubleshooting since users only have to remember one password instead of many. 

Stronger Security

Modern IDaaS lets you tightly control access and centrally increase security through features such as password complexity management, MFA/2FA, SSH keys, and single sign-on (SSO). Identities are the number one attack vector, so choosing a platform with top security features is instrumental in protecting your environment. 

  • Password complexity requirements: This feature allows admins to institute password conditions that aren’t easily guessed or accessed by cybercriminals. You can require a certain length, a mixture of letters, symbols, and numbers, and additional parameters like not allowing words or identifying information as part of the password.
  • Multi-factor authentication: This feature requires at least a two-part login process, including something the user knows (typically their password) and something they have (usually a time-based one-time password [TOTP] or push notification to a personal device).
  • Secure shell (SSH) keys: Delivered in pairs, SSH keys ensure only people who possess the necessary key sets can gain access to the guarded applications or resources. 

IDaaS also makes compliance logs much simpler to track and procure. Since every instance is vetted and recorded by the cloud system, it’s easy to retrieve necessary event data in case of a  security breach. 

Freedom of Choice

Today’s IT environments are heterogeneous, not homogeneous. Correspondingly, your IDaaS platform should allow your users to choose the applications and products that work best for them, regardless of operating system. 

Windows may have been the dominant OS for business 15 years ago, but in recent years Linux has become popular with technical users, and Mac usage has grown among executives, creatives, and average users. Mixed environments like these are where modern IDaaS really shines.

Along with balancing a mixed platform environment, IT admins must manage applications that are both on-prem and in the cloud — and the two often have different authentication protocols and methods. Cloud applications typically use SAML as the protocol, while many on-prem applications use LDAP. Choosing a modern IDaaS platform that manages both means whatever the protocol, you’ll be able to control user access.

Risks or Drawbacks to IDaaS

IDaaS is the IAM solution of the future. But just because it’s the new frontier doesn’t mean it’ll be a perfect fit for every organization right from the start. Without the proper directory platform and cloud security solutions, IDaaS may complicate your already-complicated identity management process. 

Single Point of Failure

One of IDaaS greatest benefits – its password management and SSO options – can become its greatest weakness if you experience a breach. Since one credential can give a user access to multiple applications or servers, if the authentication process fails, you’re putting a lot more than a single account at risk. 

Thankfully, the best IDaaS solutions have safeguards against this type of vulnerability. For example, JumpCloud’s sso system allows you to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to create an additional layer of security. Since MFA combines something the user knows (like passwords and usernames, which may easily be guessed or accessed by bad actors) with something they have (like biometric scanning, push notifications or time-based one-time passwords (TOTP), it creates a much more secure login process. 

Complex Management Without the Right Platform 

One of the greatest benefits to IDaaS is the streamlined admin and user experience. But without the right platform in place, this advantage can very well turn messy and complicated for users and administrators alike. 

While it’s impossible to guarantee a seamless user experience on all IDaaS platforms, JumpCloud’s directory platform offers the utmost in intuitive experiences. When considering all your options and looking at IDaaS providers, it’s always a good idea to pilot the product so you can experience the user interface and determine the proper option for yourself. 

Identity-as-a-Service With JumpCloud

JumpCloud securely connects users to all of their IT resources, regardless of protocol, platform, provider, or location. T admins can fully expect to attain the benefits that come with a comprehensive IDaaS solution…with no added complexities or security risks. Instead, you’ll gain the agility, security and efficiency that comes from being able to leverage a single pane of glass to manage identities and security for your entire IT environment. 

If you’re ready to give a best-in-class open directory platform a try for all your IDaaS needs, JumpCloud’s your solution. Drop us a note, or sign up for a trial to give JumpCloud a try for yourself.

Molly Murphy

Molly Murphy is a Senior Content Writer at JumpCloud. A self-professed nerd, she loves working on the cutting edge of the latest IT tech. When she's not in the [remote] office, Molly loves traveling, rescuing animals, and growing her all together unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter.

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