Future of IAM? Cloud Identity Management

Written by Vince Lujan on September 9, 2017

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The identity and access management (IAM) market has been around in its modern form for over 20 years now. It’s a critical market within the IT sector and is becoming even more so. With the fundamental shifts around IT and security, the question many IT admins are asking themselves is what will the future of cloud IAM look like?

Evolution of IAM

evolution of directory services

The modern IAM market started to emerge with the introduction of key solutions – Microsoft Active Directory® and the open source OpenLDAP directory service. Both of these platforms were possible because of the groundbreaking work done by our advisor, Tim Howes, and his colleagues at the University of Michigan in creating the LDAP protocol. Most IT organizations would go on to leverage these on-prem, legacy directory services solutions.

At the time, the IT environment was largely Microsoft Windows® based and on-prem. The concept of the cloud hadn’t emerged and so it made a great deal of sense that Microsoft would own the IAM market. That didn’t stop a number of IAM vendors from building on top of Active Directory, but nobody was keen to compete with the dominant platform of the time.

Interestingly, though, the IT market began to shift away from Microsoft on-prem infrastructure in the 2000s and continued to evolve into the decade of 2010. The introduction of cloud technology was the primary driving force behind this change.  

IAM in the Cloud

Identity and Access Management Pyramid

The cloud created solutions such as AWS, Google Cloud, and G Suite. The infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms shifted the data center to be hosted in the cloud. G Suite took the email server, file storage, and productivity applications and shifted them to the cloud. Apple saw a massive resurgence with their mobile phone and the Mac laptop and desktop. Linux became the operating system of choice for servers. Wired networks were replaced with WiFi, changing the architecture and security approach for IT organizations. With such dramatic changes, traditional IAM approaches – namely Microsoft Active Directory – no longer made sense.

Like everything else, identity management was moving to the cloud as well. It started with Identity-as-a-Service platforms (IDaaS) which were essentially first generation web application single sign-on solutions. IDaaS was a good start, but with all of the changes to the rest of the IT infrastructure – systems, servers, networking, and storage, web app SSO was hardly enough. A new generation of IAM solutions emerged called cloud identity management.

These cloud IAM platforms were a lot more than just shifting IAM to the cloud. Cloud identity management fundamentally deconstructed the identity management problems and created a new generation of cloud identity provider.

The Future of Cloud Identity Management

cloud identity management jumpcloud

Directory-as-a-Service® is reimagining what identity and access management can look like for the cloud era. Active Directory in the cloud wasn’t the objective and wasn’t enough. Instead, Directory-as-a-Service is focused on securely managing and connecting user identities to the IT resources those users need including systems (Windows, Mac, Linux), servers (on-prem and cloud), applications (web and on-prem), and networks (wired and WiFi) regardless of platform, protocol, provider, or location. That’s a tall order, but one that Directory-as-a-Service is satisfying.

If you have questions about why we’re so certain that Directory-as-a-Service is the future of IAM, reach out to us directly. Alternatively, sign up for our cloud identity management platform and check out why it’s replacing Active Directory. Your first 10 users are free forever.

Vince Lujan

Vince is a writer and video specialist at JumpCloud. Originally from the horse capital of New Mexico, Corrales, he has lived in Boulder, Colorado for three years. When Vince is not developing content for JumpCloud, he can usually be found at the Boulder Creek.

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