IAM for the Cloud Era

Around the world, companies are driving the digitalization of their infrastructures
Critical business processes are increasingly shifted to the cloud to make work more
agile, productive, and efficient. As a result, secure, seamless end-to-end management
is rapidly gaining importance.
If you want to reliably rule out the possibility of unsecured remote access being used
for attacks and data theft, you are even more dependent on robust and user-friendly
IAM solutions for managing customer, partner, and employee identities inside and
outside of the cloud.
To address this urgent topic, iC Consult Group GmbH, together with the manufacture
Ping Identity, organized a virtual roundtable on “IAM for the cloud era”. Mehmet Yaliman,
solutions architect at Ping Identity, and Heiko Huetter, CEO of Service Layers, led the
discussion and gave practical tips and advice to the invited enterprise customers. All
participants were invited to share their views and experiences of Identity & Access
In the hour-long discussion, the participants addressed several exciting questions
that went beyond the roundtable and highlighted key trends and solution strategies
for IAM.
1. Migration to the cloud usually entails a significant increase
in the vulnerability. What is IAM’s role in protecting critical data
in cloud applications?
In today’s increasingly complex hybrid environments, data access is becoming
less and less visible – which increases the risk of critical data breaches. Therefore,
many companies are opting for a Zero-Trust approach, in which all data accesses are
considered insecure until the identity of the user (or, in the case of API access, the
Identity & Access Management in the cloud: findings and recommendations for action from the discussion
hosted by iC Consult and Ping Identity
IAM for the Cloud Era
Focus of the discussion:
• IAM in and for the cloud
• IAM environments with
multiple identity types
• Today’s cloud consumption
• IAM for critical
• Challenges of IAM in M&A
• Trends in identity
IAM in and for the cloud
external system) has been verified. When asked, the participants shared that they
still take a wait-and-see approach to this model. Nevertheless, the roundtable quickly
came to consensus: Robust IAM that clearly regulates who is who, and who is allowed
to do what, is indispensable for a secure connection to the cloud.
As the participants also pointed out, “IAM and cloud” is not just about managing
identities when accessing cloud applications (“IAM for the cloud”). An equally important
aspect is that more and more IAM systems are themselves cloud-based (“IAM in the
cloud”). This is a challenge for many IT departments and must be kept front of mind.
2. Today, companies need to manage individual access rights
for multiple identity types (customers, employees, partners,
suppliers, etc.). Should these roles be managed in dedicated
systems, or is it more efficient to consolidate them into
one solution?
Several participants confirmed that they are currently dealing with this issue, and would
like to bring the identity types together in a unified solution. However, most stated that
they still divide the communities according to roles (typically: end customer, employee,
and partner) and use a dedicated solution for each group. This strict separation is not
considered ideal, as roles are increasingly blurring and many customers have access
to APIs that were once exclusively for employees. One participant also noted that
partners should not be grouped together generally, but rather subdivided according to
the type of collaboration, the skillset, and the services used.
The complexity of this topic became even more clear when one participant pointed
out that, in his company, identities are not only differentiated by type, but that several
divisions also have dedicated IAM systems, which has led to a mix of very different
systems and identities. However, the unification of these systems has high priority.
3. When integrating a modern IAM solution, companies can
currently choose from several deployment options.
What are they?
The first step for companies when integrating an IAM solution is to decide whether
they favor a solution that is fully cloud-based, hybrid, or on-premises.
Those opting for a cloud-based Identity-as-a-Service model can, in the simplest case,
implement a largely standardized multi-tenant solution such as Ping One, where
all components and services are pre-selected and pre-configured. For customers
who want a greater degree of control and choice, more customizable single-tenant
solutions are available: Ping One Advanced Services, for example, offers comprehensive
customization options such as the IAM platform from Service Layers.
Those who do not want to switch their complete Identity & Access Management to
the cloud can choose from numerous hybrid models, in which some components of
the solution are hosted in the company’s own data center, and others are accessed via
SaaS. Which areas are outsourced, and which are operated in-house, is entirely up to
IAM environments with
multiple identity types
Today’s cloud consumption
the company itself. Ultimately, the composition of the hybrid model depends on the
customer’s individual requirements. According to the participants, a “one size fits all”
model is not an appropriate solution.
Last but not least, there are classic on-prem solutions, where control and responsibility
usually lie largely with the customer. Why these still are the best option for many
environments becomes apparent in the further course of the discussion.
4. Not every type of company can use a cloud solution. Why?
A participant from the military industry stated that cloud-based IAM is currently not an
option, due to compliance reasons.
Considering the company’s highly critical data, digital identities must be managed
exclusively on-premises. The use of a cloud would be unsuitable in this area. To benefit
from the possibilities of cloud technology in some areas, however, the company has
implemented its own private cloud, hosted in the company’s own data center. However,
the company has successfully used Ping Directory as an alternative to common LDAP
directories. In light of the progress made in cloud security, it’s possible that the strict
compliance requirements may eventually change.
Another participant in the round intervened and confirmed that this is certainly
possible. He has been working with companies in the military industry for some time
and has already implemented cloud projects with them.
5. What IAM aspects should be considered following a merger
or acquisition?
Some participants shared their experience with consolidating IAM architectures
after mergers and acquisitions (M&A). A number of specific challenges need to be
considered. Until now, the discussion primarily focused on security; now, the focus
shifted to dealing with large volumes of data. According to the panel, an IAM solution
must always focus on holistic solutions in order to meet the requirements of globally
active companies – for example, when thousands of identities, groupings, and systems
need to be standardized and unified following a merger.
6. What are the current options for verifying identities in the cloud,
and what trends are emerging?
Generally, the Ping Stack was very well received in the discussion group. Several
participants confirmed that their companies already use large parts of the Ping
portfolio (Ping Directory, Ping Federate, Ping One) to manage their identities and
accesses. Although the participants agreed that the Ping Stack can show its strengths
especially in cloud-based environments, two participants reported that they use the
solutions partially or completely on-prem. One justified this with the military industry’s
compliance requirements, the other stated that migration to the cloud is firmly planned,
but not yet completed.
IAM for critical infrastructures
Challenges of IAM in
M&A scenarios
The participants shared a wide range of Ping use cases and deployment options. The
overall tenor: There are still numerous on-prem applications in IAM, but the trend is
clearly moving towards cloud-native architectures. Many of the companies are already
using multi-cloud services and multiple IAM providers to cope with increasing data
volumes and requirements. In addition, the expectations of end customers must
also be considered. Finally, it is important to find the right balance between company
security and the desire for an easy-to-use IAM solution.
At this point, one participant referred to a trend that has developed in China and is now
increasingly shaping the discussion in the USA: the possibility of logging into multiple
communities with a single identity. The topic of single sign-on is coming into focus.
7. Do passwords have a future in Identity & Access Management?
At the end of the discussion, one participant asked whether passwords are still upto-
date and secure for confirming identities. The group agreed: No, they are not.
Passwords are neither secure(credential theft repeatedly leads to loss of valuable
data) nor user-friendly (password resets continue to incur enormous costs). As a
possible alternative, one participant brought up SMS confirmation, which, for example,
is popular in China. But the panel disagrees: This is also no longer a modern method.
Instead, the participants favored multi-factor authentication, push notifications, and
biometric measures such as fingerprints. Nevertheless, some participants remained
skeptical: The discussion about the end of passwords has been going on for over ten
years and there is still no solution in sight.
Conclusion: Challenges can be solved with the right partners
After sixty exciting minutes, the participants were largely unanimous: Companies will
be concerned with the topic of Identity & Access Management for a long time to come.
After all, those responsible are facing the challenging task of developing customized
solutions that are not only meet the demands of their own stakeholders, but also
fulfill a wide range of strict legal and industry-specific requirements. (e.g. CRITIS).
Contemporary IAM solutions, such as the broad Ping Stack or the IAM platform from
Service Layers, can already map all of these requirements today. In view of the overall
project complexity, companies are advised to involve experienced consultants and
integrators at an early stage.
Trends in identity verification
iC Consult GmbH | Leopoldstr. 252b | 80807 Munich | Germany | sales@ic-consult.com | www.ic-consult.com
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