Identity Management in the Cloud

Written by Greg Keller on June 6, 2016

Share This Article

The SaaS revolution has been going on for a number of years now. It’s hard to come up with examples of areas in the industry that haven’t been turned into SaaS markets. There are a few on our list, however, and identity management currently ranks at the top of that list. Why? Because IT admins have been loath to give up control over their user identities. For IT admins, safety and control have always gone hand in hand when it comes to core user identities.

An Overview of the Identity Management Market

Identity management is a broad and complex category. Portions of the identity management category have been leveraging SaaS for a number of years already. It is just now, though, that major components of identity management – read core identities – are being moved to the cloud. An overview of the market is important as a basis for understanding the overall identity and access control market segment.

Categories of Idnetity Management

Let’s take a closer look at each layer, shall we? At the base of identity management is directory services. Directories are the core IdP, or identity provider, for an organization. Depending upon what type of directory service is leveraged, a directory extension (link to yet published Centrify Versus JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service post) may be needed. These solutions extend the core identities out to unsupported applications and devices. The next layer is SSO solutions to web applications. Following SSO, we find access control to highly critical infrastructure such as switches, routers, and servers. Password managers and multi-factor authentication (MFA) solutions round out the identity management landscape.

Early Buy-In from Web SSO and Password Managers

Web SSO providers were the first to leverage SaaS solutions, and password managers were early adopters of this revolutionary technology. Recently, both directory extenders and MFA solutions started to move to the cloud. Since core identity providers of the directory and privileged account management solutions have long been considered highly critical and their security paramount, they have just been introduced as SaaS-based solutions.

Identity Providers are Next in Line

The core directory service, or identity provider, (link to the yet published What is an Identity Provider (IdP)) is in the early stages of making the leap to the cloud. That’s pretty interesting given that this category is the heart of identity management. The whole infrastructure is based on its core user store. Directory-as-a-Service has just emerged as a cloud-based directory platform. One of the many benefits of the approach is that organizations can securely connect their users to IT resources on-premises and in the cloud. Further, DaaS is platform agnostic, so it works with Windows, Linux, and Mac as well as cloud applications dependent upon LDAP or SAML. By moving identity management to the cloud, it centralizes user management across all IT resources wherever they may be.

Identity management may be one of the late bloomers when it comes to SaaS-ification, but it will be quite powerful. Centralized control over an entire infrastructure from the cloud will change the way identity management is done. If you would like to learn more about where cloud-based identity management is headed, drop us a note. We’d be happy to discuss it with you.

Continue Learning with our Newsletter