The adoption of hybrid IT environments is a standard aspect of digital transformation. During this process, many organisations encounter difficulties arising from managing access and identities across multiple applications, clouds, networks and servers. Delivering a good digital business experience to all your stakeholders – customers, employees and business partners – while managing risk requires the use of modern identity and access governance solutions. With these types of solutions, not only can you maximise efficiency, but you can also ensure compliance with regulatory requirements such as the EU’s GDPR and California’s CCPA.
Navigating the advantages of the cloud
Migrating to the cloud brings a lot of advantages, including simplified infrastructure management, elastic scaling, management and analytics of data, operational efficiency, application and partner integration, and enhanced security. Companies are adopting cloud services and a wide range of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications, yet the scattered IT landscape on-premises and in the cloud rapidly becomes blurred. What’s more, the proper protection of identities and management of access is a key business differentiator for achieving efficiency, compliance and security.
Organisations can achieve these three important goals by using software products with mature process frameworks to support evolving standards, practices and regulations. Further, this ensures that only the right people have access to the right resources, at the right time, for the right reason.
This requires a central identity governance framework. It will ensure seamless cloud-based business processes and services, and thereby also support identity lifecycle, entitlement management, access request and approval, role and policy management, access and resource certification, fulfillment, auditing, reporting and analytics.
Don’t forget governance
Though a shift to the cloud holds many benefits, an organisation’s IT team takes on the added burdens of overseeing and controlling who has access to which systems and data while avoiding
shadow IT. Without this overview and control, the result could be a complex IT landscape with ungoverned access across a variety of cloud and on-premises applications.
Modern identity governance and access management is necessary for today’s organisations. This will enable them to manage access to on-premises applications in combination with cloud-based applications and in line with corporate policies and regulatory requirements. It will also provide full provisioning and lifecycle governance capabilities.
Organisations face significant consequences if they lack a sound and consistent identity management and access governance processes when moving to the cloud. They include decreased productivity, loss of intellectual property, audit failures and unnecessary cloud subscriptions costs.
Hybrid cloud challenges
It is essential for organisations to bear in mind the new requirements of managing identities and access before making the move to the cloud, as it places more importance on an identity governance solution than ever before. The increase in digital transformation means there are more mobile devices, more transactions and access to be granted anywhere, anytime, leading to new polices and legislation that will need to be supported.
Hybrid cloud adoption must still comply with legislation, ensure efficiency and secure collaboration across the organisation and with partners and customers. It has to support the rapid adoption of new digital services while respecting security and compliance. It must protect the brand and IP while acting in a complex ecosystem. The organisation must therefore manage risk while maintaining business agility.
The ability to access resources is changing – resources like applications and data. Cloud directory services and as-a-Service applications, or internet-exposed on-premises applications, are easier for partner organisations to access. At the same time, previously “internally” managed partner identities now become cloud-federated identities and require similar governance as before. The risk is that cloud-based collaboration evolves faster than identity governance.
The identity governance component
Organisations need to have a vision regarding cloud adoption and then establish appropriate governance. It is important to implement a well-functioning, future-proof architecture for identity management and access governance. This architecture should secure the organisation long-term and ensure correct data flows across disparate systems and directories.
Before enabling identities to use cloud services, you have to know the identities and related accounts in your organisation. Companies must ensure that federated identities from suppliers, partners or customers are governed in an appropriate way; ideally, this should happen before collaboration begins, and the correct processes must be established and implemented. Organisations should also establish “local” security mechanisms, such as access request and certification, and policies must also be established for cloud services.
Because identity governance is crucial, organisations must put operational processes in place to monitor all aspects of security and compliance. Organisations should also develop cost models, investigating how they manage “service on-demand” in terms of cost and how they integrate cloud cost models into finance processes.
Making the cloud feasible
No one can deny the benefits of migrating to the cloud, but in doing so, don’t deny the real risks and challenges involved. New vulnerabilities appear in the cloud that organisations need to face head-on and from the start. Identity governance and administration is a key component in a successful cloud deployment, enabling organisations to continuously meet security, compliance and efficiency needs.
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