Identity management is generally regarded as one of the thorniest issues to manage in all of the land of IT, a situation that has only been made more complicated by the advent of cloud computing.
But sometimes the very thing that causes the crisis, in this case cloud computing, might also wind up being the source of the solution to the problem. In recent months, there's been a lot more activity in terms of creating services in the cloud that manage identity. For example, VMware recently launched VMware Horizon App Manager, a service that leverages the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) in the cloud. That service competes with a similar offering from Okta, which today announced a free trial of its offering along with two lower-end editions that are priced at $5 per user per month and $10 per user per month.
The limitation with these services is they only work with software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications designated by VMware or Okta. But in either case, the service can be extended to support any instance of SAML in the cloud or on premise that any IT organization chooses to do the work to make happen. Okta CEO Todd McKinnon says that beyond simplifying the whole identity management process, services such as Okta also eliminate most of the need for expensive consultants to set up an identity management system.
What's interesting about all these services in the age of the cloud is that it may not wind up being security that drives the adoption of identity management. IT organizations are growing weary of end users accessing SaaS applications without any oversight from IT. This not only results in wasted spending on redundant SaaS applications, it also creates a potential scenario where the business will be out of compliance with any number of regulations. That, in turn, raises the specter of expensive fines.
In either case, concerns about money, rather than potential security threats, are motivating IT organizations to finally be proactive about identity management. The good news is that for all those organizations that waited to deal with this issue, your patience is about to rewarded with services that should substantially reduce the complexities of identity management. As always, good things seem to come to those who procrastinate in the age of the cloud.