Identities are fast becoming one of the most critical digital assets in the modern era. The need for businesses to protect and manage them has led to the relatively new concept of Identity-as-a-Service.

Why Identities Matter

Identities control what we can do online, they’re tied to our economic infrastructure, and they connect us socially. It’s no wonder that a person’s identity is so important.

In our personal lives, we control identities primarily through our email accounts and social media accounts. In our professional lives, identities are controlled by the companies that we work for. These organizations care deeply about how to secure and federate identities appropriately because identities are the conduit to an organization’s deepest digital assets and information.

Traditional Identity Management

Historically, organizations have managed identities through on-premises software such as Microsoft Active Directory and OpenLDAP. Both functioned as the gatekeeper for a person’s professional identity. That professional identity would manifest itself publicly as an email address and privately as credentials to login to various internal devices and applications.

A decade ago, most if not all of the infrastructure was on-premises. So credentials effectively stayed internal to the organization and connecting everything together was easier. Your identity didn’t need to be used externally in a professional capacity. With everything internal, the concept of identity was not nearly as significant and protecting and controlling credentials was much easier.

Emerging Identity Risks and Challenges

Fast forward a decade and the network is not internal anymore. In fact, very little of an organization these days lives on-premises. With cloud infrastructure and SaaS-based applications, much of an employee’s work exists on the Internet.

Potentially anyone online could view that work. So how an organization controls access to what becomes much more important. Now identities matter more than ever before.

This requires managing the access rights to countless SaaS-based services and devices. But that process can be time consuming and tedious. Without a strong system to manage the matrix of users, devices, and applications, mistakes and inefficiency are inevitable.

Without everything on-premises, the traditional solutions to manage identity – AD and LDAP – are no longer nearly as relevant. As a user’s identity filters across numerous Web-based properties, the chances of a compromise become higher.

Identity-as-a-Service: The Cloud Solution

A central cloud-based Identity-as-a-Service can bridge the gap. The core of this approach is a cloud-based directory that stores and secures a user’s credentials. Often called a Directory-as-a-Service® as well, the central directory can then federate a user’s identity to the cloud server infrastructure and Web-based applications a user needs.

Managing the matrix of users, devices, and applications becomes as simple as adding users to the resources they need. The directory can control on-premises equipment such as laptops, desktops, and network access. No need to manage multiple “mini” directories as before.

Security also takes a significant step up. Credentials can be revoked across the whole system easily so accounts aren’t missed. Credentials can be hashed and salted to a higher degree than is usually done with on-premises directories. Identity-as-a-Service solutions can solve the issues with securely connecting users to the IT resources that users need, efficiently.

Identity Management Made Simple with IaaS

On-premises directories are giving way to cloud-based directory services solutions. These cloud-based directories are centralizing and securing the identities within an organization. Instead of allowing multiple directories, Directory-as-a-Service® solutions consolidate identities into one core directory to be easily managed and secured.