Welcome!

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Open Source Cloud, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Consolidating the Variables: Augment Existing Identity Management Systems

Using cloud security to expand on-premise investments

The modern enterprise is a fluid entity. As an IT construct it expands and contracts (sometimes simultaneously), and many of the moving parts (like users and applications) are themselves evolving and changing. This creates unique challenges in operational efficiencies, core competency support, compliance observance and risk management.  The central theme to all these challenges is establishing and maintaining control of applications which serve as gateways to all the valuable data (personal, trade secrets and other IP) on which an enterprise exists. Many companies have turned to an identity management solution which administrate and validate the digital identities of authorized users.

This is not a new concept, nor is it a foreign practice to many established enterprises. Identity management combined with controlled and channeled access is a recognized best practice and regulatory compliance necessity. Many companies have invested in some sort of authoritative identity repository and management system.  The rising issue is that in order to keep up with the quickly changing landscape of SaaS, cloud and web –based apps, that investment becomes costlier and the ability to agilely address identity validation and authentication becomes less responsive.

Unless you leverage the cloud to augment existing systems.

Let’s assume an enterprise has made a serious investment in a solution like IBM Tivoli or Oracle Identity Manager.  Both products have significant clout and enterprise functionality. It handles the identity creation, rules management, administration and provisioning for many of the legacy and on-premise products and internal systems. It's no secret that these enterprise monoliths are expensive to purchase, deploy and continuously maintain. So, when examining the scope of applications available to users, several are left unsecured because of the cost and resource drain to incorporate them into IDM fold.  Layered on this is the need to authenticate and authorize users outside of an enterprise’s direct control. This includes 3rd party suppliers, vendors and even customers; all who need access to slivers of data contained in specific applications.

The costs to expand the on-premise authentication scope are broader and deeper than simply adding the subscription price of a SaaS solution. There is the licensing of the adapter (or connector) to allow the data of the SaaS to securely flow between the application and the IDM solution via Active Directory (or other repository source). There is support and maintenance (usually 20% of the purchase price paid annually). There are the professional services to install and configure the connectors. There is the cost of development, time-to-market gaps, and the added burden of doing this multiple times for each SaaS and web-based application.

Yet, by deploying a complimentary IDaaS (identity-as-a-service) strategy, all of the above costs, services and deployment difficulties are considerably reduced or eliminated, while still promoting the necessary security gravitas to assert control, streamline workflow and optimize IT resources. As part of the IDaaS arsenal, most of the popular federated connectors are already available out of the box. IDaaS managed from the cloud also extends its scope to those Non-SAML based application (web-based) through an identity gateway. So, no development costs, no additional licenses, and professional services shrink to a minimum. By creating this umbrella over your virtual footprint, the ability to automatically provision and deprovision user accounts extends to these new applications as seamlessly as if they were parked on-premise. Additionally, creating a parallel-yet-integrated identity manager allows for seamless integration with single sign on. This unique cloud-controlled advantage enforces corporate access policy decisions across the enterprise and puts IT back in control of the IT landscape. It eliminates the potential for Shadow IT applications, BYOD abuse and enables better productivity.

The notion is not to reinvent the wheel, but to expand the metaphor, change out the tires for all-terrain use.  If an organization has spent millions to create a viable identity management system, it is unlikely they will abandon the project to put the entire administration and management in the cloud. However, it is prudent to create a cost-effective, enterprise grade equivalent to integrate new applications, multiple data stores and “outside,” users accounts into a secure and controlled environment. In short, it consolidates the variables into a manageable, automated and centralized strategy without incurring additional resources and runaway costs.

Some call this a hybrid strategy. Regardless of the label, a strategy that extends your capability to authenticate, attest and authorize user names, passwords and permissions beyond your firewall will only strengthen you defense against breach, unwanted usage and data leakage from insider threats. In that it can be done with minimal disturbance and without deep pocket spending makes this all the more attractive and practical.

The automations inherent in IDaaS also facilitates stronger compliance…especially when it comes to monitoring the SaaS and web applications. Instead of an infrequent review of logs real time reports can be instantaneously generated to see exactly who accessed what application. But the cornerstone of compliance is to monitor if any changes were made, especially to access protocols (passwords, user names etc…). IDaaS can note in real time when any attribute changes, who made the change and who approved the change. This is a standard compliance audit requirement.

The proliferation of SaaS and web-based applications has changed the security quotient. Leaving these applications partially secured still leaves them partially unsecured. IDaaS allow you to close those vulnerability gaps. Despite best efforts, network perimeters have all but disappeared. All too often, because of multiple data stores and the virtual left hand does not know what the right is doing.

As noted earlier, your IT environment continues to expand and contract. Just consider the lifecycle of the different users that need to access different applications. New hires, promotions, demotions, firings, new partners, new customers, latent customers-- each instance requires some modification to their identity rights.  Does Chuck, who used to be in your accounting department still have his active user credentials? Has Rachel who hasn’t ordered from your site in 3 years had her account retired? How easy would it be for Chuck, Rachel or some nefarious account takeover hacker using their stolen credentials to create significant havoc on your network? It’s a significant task and greater responsibility to find each data store they have been given access and deprovision, However,  IDaaS can turn off or modify any user account instantly-both in the cloud and through on-premise systems through its connection to Active Directory (or LDAP, AS/400, MySQL, Solaris, RedHat, etc…).

Now multiply the above scenario by 500 or 5000 users a day for a modest enterprise when creating users, resetting passwords and permission sets and you begin to recognize the significant advantages and efficiencies a centralized and augmented with the cloud identity rights management and access control system provide. And the larger the organization, the more complex these data islands are to resolve.

Stronger forms of authentication and authorization need to be deployed in response to the growing threats.  Using an IDaaS and SSO combination from the cloud is a proactive step towards consolidating all the variables and cost-effectively strengthening your identity defenses.

Kevin Nikkhoo
www.cloudaccess.com

More Stories By Kevin Nikkhoo

With more than 32 years of experience in information technology, and an extensive and successful entrepreneurial background, Kevin Nikkhoo is the CEO of the dynamic security-as-a-service startup Cloud Access. CloudAccess is at the forefront of the latest evolution of IT asset protection--the cloud.

Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from McGill University, Master of Computer Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the University of Southern California with emphasis in entrepreneurial studies.

Latest Stories
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. Commvault can ensure protection, access and E-Discovery of your data – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise. In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Part...
SYS-CON Events announced today that AppNeta, the leader in performance insight for business-critical web applications, will exhibit and present at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AppNeta is the only application performance monitoring (APM) company to provide solutions for all applications – applications you develop internally, business-critical SaaS applications you use and the networks that deli...
Join us at Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo 2016 – June 7-9 at the Javits Center in New York City and November 1-3 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – and deliver your unique message in a way that is striking and unforgettable by taking advantage of SYS-CON's unmatched high-impact, result-driven event / media packages.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, will provide an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life ...
Many banks and financial institutions are experimenting with containers in development environments, but when will they move into production? Containers are seen as the key to achieving the ultimate in information technology flexibility and agility. Containers work on both public and private clouds, and make it easy to build and deploy applications. The challenge for regulated industries is the cost and complexity of container security compliance. VM security compliance is already challenging, ...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Cloud computing changed data analytics for good. It enabled companies to drastically decrease resources and architecture previously assigned with business intelligence departments. It also enabled laymen to run advanced business analytics. Cloud was also the architecture of choice for storing and processing big data. Data piling is a continuous process, which is going to explode with emerging Internet of Things concept. Answer to this issue developers found in new concept called fog computing. ...
18th Cloud Expo, taking place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tintri Inc., a leading producer of VM-aware storage (VAS) for virtualization and cloud environments, will exhibit at the 18th International CloudExpo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu, a leading provider of cloud hosting solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to foc...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discuss how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. We'll cite examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He'll also highlight how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable...
SoftLayer operates a global cloud infrastructure platform built for Internet scale. With a global footprint of data centers and network points of presence, SoftLayer provides infrastructure as a service to leading-edge customers ranging from Web startups to global enterprises. SoftLayer's modular architecture, full-featured API, and sophisticated automation provide unparalleled performance and control. Its flexible unified platform seamlessly spans physical and virtual devices linked via a world...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and ...