Cloud IDaaS (Identity-as-a-Service)

Written by Greg Keller on January 25, 2016

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The cloud-based Identity-as-a-Service market is heating up. Identity is at the core of an organization’s IT infrastructure. The process of tracking what, when, and how a user accesses IT resources is often referred to as Identity and Access Management. It plays an important role in IT’s ability to help users be productive while keeping the infrastructure secure. Identity-as-a-Service is a cloud-based approach to identity management solutions.

What Exactly is Cloud IDaaS?

There exists some confusion about the term IDaaS and its market space. Why? There are many different types of specific solutions claiming to be Identity-as-a-Service. For IT organizations, it can be quite confusing to figure out the relevant parts of IDaaS. When thinking about how cloud identity solutions can be helpful to your organization, it is wise to ask some core questions about your needs. Let’s take a closer look at those queries, shall we?

Do you need a core, authoritative directory service?

Many cloud-forward organizations have opted to forgo a directory service. Some of these organizations are leveraging Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud, but they don’t have a corresponding cloud-based directory service. Neither Google Apps Directory nor Azure Active Directory function as a complete directory service for an organization’s on-prem systems, cloud servers, or on-prem and cloud applications. Luckily, a new category of Identity-as-a-Service platform called Directory-as-a-Service functions as a comprehensive cloud directory service.

Do you already have a directory but need to manage users on other platforms?

Some organizations already have an on-premises directory, such as Microsoft Active Directory or OpenLDAP, but struggle with how to connect their users to Mac and Linux machines. Further, many of these organizations want to manage the devices themselves. The concept is to extend the identity that exists in the core directory to the platforms that aren’t supported by either AD or LDAP. These solutions are often referred to as a directory extensions, but they also fit within the Identity-as-a-Service category.

Do you need to manage user access to cloud applications?

Perhaps no category has tried harder to become synonymous with IDaaS than the web application single sign-on space. This category, which has existed for a number of years, is exclusively focused on providing single sign-on access to web applications. It also connects to the core user store and federates that identity to any number of cloud applications.

Do you need to manage users on cloud servers?

Over the past few years, a new IT resource category has taken off: the cloud server. It is usually provided by AWS or Google Compute Engine and acts as the outsourced data center for organizations. Of course, the challenge for IT organizations is how to control access to these cloud infrastructure components. Cloud server user management can also be referred to as a form of cloud IDaaS.

Learn How Cloud Identity-as-a-Service Can Best Serve You

From an organization’s perspective, understanding how the IDaaS market breaks down is critical to understanding who to turn to for help. There are a wide range of vendors that participate in the market with wildly different approaches and definitions.

If you would like some help learning how IDaaS can help your organization, drop us a note. We’d be happy to share a rundown on the IDaaS market along with where and how Directory-as-as-Service can potentially play a role.

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