An explosion of innovative IT solutions has fractured the identity and access management (IAM) landscape over the last few years. Due to the rise of Macs®, Linux®, SaaS apps, and cloud-based infrastructure, the concept of unified IAM is one that might seem like a relic of the past for IT organizations. Although the cloud has contributed to the splintering of traditional IAM practices, it has thankfully made way for a truly unified IAM solution.
IAM as It Has Been
In 1999, Microsoft® introduced Active Directory® (AD). The average IT environment at that time was virtually all Windows®-based, and servers, systems, applications, and networks all existed on-premises and physically interconnected. As such, AD was able to unify access to all of these resources in a single solution. For IT organizations of the era, AD was the only IAM solution they needed.
Over the years, though, the IT landscape started to shift, and the ability to control user access became much more difficult. The rise of the cloud, in particular, has completely changed the way modern organizations do work. Despite great advances in productivity, collaboration, and extensibility, cloud solutions have also created hurdles for managing access with AD.
Beyond that, macOS and Linux machines have populated and diversified the modern workplace. They have yet to make a significant dent in Windows’ market share dominance, but their usage is on the rise, throwing an additional wrench in admins’ IAM works. After all, AD is designed with Windows in mind and treats macOS and Linux almost like second-class citizens.
As a result, IT admins have built a layered approach to IAM on top of their AD infrastructure. Point solutions, like identity bridges and web application single sign-on (SSO), help IT organizations to extend AD identities to non-domain resources. Although the benefits of these solutions are apparent, they also created identity management silos and have ended up costing IT organizations dearly in both time and money.
Re-unifying IAM from the Cloud
The shift to the cloud can no longer be regarded as a passing fad. Many IT organizations are rethinking their approach to IAM as a whole. Some still reminisce about the early days of AD, when a single set of credentials applied to virtually all IT assets and resources.
This concept of True Single Sign-On™ is one that would greatly benefit modern IT admins who have to deal with the various disparate resources at play in their organizations. Thankfully, this capability has emerged again for modern IT in the form of a cloud directory service.
Offered in the ‘as-a-Service’ style, this cloud directory service allows IT admins to utilize unified IAM over practically all of their organization’s resources — all from the cloud. That means True SSO across systems, applications, networks, infrastructure, and more from a single, centralized solution.