Managing identities and access entitlements is becoming increasingly challenging in a rapidly changing business, regulatory and IT environment, but those challenges are compounded for multinational organisations due to the distributed nature of their operations.
Identity and access management (IAM) is especially challenging for multinational companies that need to manage the identities of employees, partners, customers, consumers and devices wherever the company does business, while also complying with a range of data security and privacy regulations.
The domain of Identity and Access Management (IAM) has evolved over the past two decades. In the beginning, its primary purpose was to meet simple authentication requirements. As the adoption of IAM solutions increased across multiple industries, the need to meet several other requirements became apparent: service password management, single sign-on, multifactor authentication, entitlements, role engineering, authorization, life cycle management, access certification and more.
The accelerated shift to work-from-home due to the pandemic also means that SMBs are now more prone to cyberattacks, and the solutions that cater to organizations of all sizes are scant. The landscape of IAM is only becoming more convoluted and straying further away from simple and holistic security.
Converged IAM is one solution to this predicament. An IAM product that converges full suite of access management, authentication, authorization, IGA, PAM and risk analytics solutions in one platform can empower organizations to mature their overall security posture quickly, support identification of indicators of compromises (IOC) proactively and strengthen external as well as internal security maturity. It can also increase employee productivity with daily application usage, password management, single sign-on, access requests, approvals, reviews and more.
The future of IAM is not in fragments of different niches stitched together to cover various functionalities. It is in providing a single platform to meet all the IAM demands of today’s digital landscape that is constantly being encroached by threat actors.
Within the broader IAM challenge, there are several other specific challenges facing multinational organisations, often related to the fact that IAM is run differently in each region or location where the company operates. These specific challenges include:
- Being able to deal with customers and employees with identities originally registered in one geography using their identities to access services and systems in another geography.
- Delivering IAM services using different IAM technology stacks, processes, operating models and maturity levels across different company locations.
- Supporting different languages in the different countries where the company operates.
- Ensuring fast time to market for products and services requiring consistent IAM for employees, partners and customers in response to market needs and opportunities.
- Enabling fast, simultaneous rollouts for new applications to new markets.
- Standardisation and automation to reduce costs and risk of in-house solutions.
- Built-in support for the internet of things (IoT), DevOps models and local DevOps teams.
- Retaining control of infrastructure, changes, deployments and interfaces.
- Complying with specific regional and local regulatory requirements in addition to global regulatory requirements in terms of data protection, information security, product safety and quality assurance, export regulation and financial regulation.
Identity and access management is a very common element to regulations, with each type of regulation often setting some requirements for managing IDs, onboarding, identification of customers, authentication, access control and access governance.
To deal with these regulations, multinational companies need a strong IAM that is flexible enough to be strong in some regions, but more relaxed in others.
n the digital era, the most significant trend is towards the provision and consumption of all IT as cloud-based services, including IAM. As a growing number of workloads and IT services move to the cloud, it makes sense to move IAM to the cloud as well. Moving IAM to the cloud helps avoid the integration, management and licensing complexity of hybrid IT environments where some workloads run on-premise while others run in parallel in the cloud.
However, cloud-based IAM services will still need to support hybrid IT environments for the foreseeable future and at the same time will need to evolve to include support not only for employees, but also for business partners, customers, consumers and non-human entities that have identities that need to be managed, such as internet-connected devices that make up the internet of things.
Identity-as-a-service (IDaaS) solutions have appeared on the market in recent years, in line with the as-a-service trend. These IDaaS solutions offer several key benefits that could help multinational organisations to tackle the challenge of running a global IAM service.
Since first appearing on the market, IDaaS offerings have gradually matured to include identity management, entitlement management, authentication and authorisation, which are the key components of IAM, adding the depth required by modern enterprises to reduce security and compliance risk.
The IDaaS market has registered significant growth in the past few years because of the ability of IDaaS to enable organisations to:
- Achieve better time-to-value proposition over on-premise IAM deployments.
- Extend IAM capabilities to meet the security requirements of growing software as a service (SaaS).
- Adopt global IAM standards and practices with access to industry expertise.
- Reduce internal IAM costs and efforts to keep up with the market trends.
- Limit internal IAM failures in project delivery and ongoing operations.
The shift of business workloads to the cloud, however, is a long-term journey for most businesses. Similarly, the shift from on-premise IAM to IDaaS services, while at the same time delivering comprehensive support for IAM capabilities across all target systems, regardless of their deployment model, is also a multi-step journey.
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