IAM 101 Series: What Is Hybrid IAM?

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Unite On-Prem, Cloud, and SaaS Environments With Hybrid IAM

Cloud identity and access management (IAM) is a fast-growing trend that is predicted to extend well into the future. For example, Verified Market Research alone projects that, by 2027, the market for cloud IAM will be more than $14 billion.

Yet, while the cloud-based IAM market is exploding, the reality is not all roses.

In our last IAM 101 post, What are Hybrid IT and Hybrid Cloud?, we discussed the differences, benefits, and disadvantages of hybrid IT and hybrid cloud. In this post, we’ll quickly recap these challenges as they pertain to digital identity. We’ll then dive into how to differentiate between IAM architectures in order to solve the needs of your hybrid enterprise, and then wrap up with the benefits of a hybrid IAM platform.

Let’s get started.

IAM Challenges Within Hybrid IT and Hybrid Cloud Architectures

From an IAM perspective, the main challenges posed by hybrid IT and hybrid cloud architectures is that they typically consist of multiple, separated cloud and on-premises (on-prem) environments and a combination of home-grown, legacy, and modern systems. These disjointed systems and environments unfortunately result in siloed and duplicated identities, which lead to a whole host of problems. 

For example, identity silos make it difficult to identify and monitor high-risk user access enterprise-wide. And unknown risks can lead to potential data breaches, fines, and other financial consequences, as well as reputational damage. Additionally, multiple disjointed systems can hinder the ability to provide seamless user experiences, innovate, and move at the speed of business.

So, how do you bridge siloed systems and identities within hybrid IT and hybrid cloud architectures to solve all of the above and more? To answer this question, let’s review the different types of IAM architectures.

Differentiating IAM Architectures

When evaluating the IAM market for solutions that will bridge environments and systems within your hybrid IT and hybrid cloud architectures, it’s important to know how to differentiate between IAM architectures. There are 4 types:

  1. On-Premises-Only IAM Systems: Often referred to as ‘legacy IAM’, most on-premises IAM systems were designed at a time when on-prem IT reigned. Unfortunately, the majority of these solutions haven’t evolved to include capabilities required for today’s use cases, nor meet cloud requirements like containerization, auto scaling, and support for newer standards.
  2. Cloud-Only IAM Solutions: It’s important to note that cloud-only IAM solutions only run in the public cloud. And because they’re ‘cloud-only’, these solutions lack support for on-prem business-critical legacy applications and the business processes and customizations that rely on them.
    On-prem IAM systems don’t have the capabilities to meet cloud requirements, and cloud-only IAM systems don't have the capabilities required to adapt to on-prem business processes.
  3. Same IAM Vendor, Disparate Cloud and On-Prem Solutions: Some IAM providers claim that they have a hybrid offering. However, their cloud and on-prem offerings are very different products. This means that in order to cover your on-prem, cloud, and as-a-service environments you would need to spend precious resources and time learning two or more products. You’d also have to run and maintain two different solutions, which can lead to less-than-ideal user experiences.
  4. Hybrid IAM Platform: This unique type of IAM architecture hinges on a single IAM platform capable of running, unifying, and securing all digital identities across hybrid IT and hybrid cloud. Purpose-built for hybrid IT and hybrid cloud, hybrid IAM eliminates identity silos and duplicate identities across mixed environments, which is critical for security and positive user experiences. Importantly, with hybrid IAM, you get:
    • Flexibility and configurability to adapt to on-prem and cloud business processes.
    • No impact to business-critical on-prem applications during IAM modernization.
    • Seamless coexistence and complete freedom to transition to cloud without disruption.
Hybrid IAM is an IAM platform capable of running, unifying, and securing all digital identities across hybrid IT and hybrid cloud architectures.

Unite and Secure Hybrid IT Environments With Hybrid IAM 

As you can conclude from understanding the different types of IAM architectures listed above, hybrid IAM is how you easily and efficiently solve the challenges caused by identity silos and duplicates across mixed IT environments.

3 Benefits of Hybrid IAM

  1. Cost Savings: By having a single IAM platform that can meet your hybrid needs, you gain the flexibility to determine and control how much of your IAM infrastructure is on-prem versus in the cloud at any given point. This means you can move to the cloud at your own pace without worrying about additional IAM costs (such as migration and maintenance) or the impact it may have on user experience.
  2. Improved User Experiences: By unifying siloed identity information with a hybrid IAM platform, you can deliver a seamless and consistent user experience at any scale for any identity – no matter where the user (customer or employee) identity, service, or application is located within your hybrid IT or hybrid cloud architecture.
  3. Uncompromised Security: Hybrid IAM enables you to quickly adopt Zero-Trust and CARTA (Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust Assessment) strategies. This includes the ability to add user and device context to authentication so you can continuously authorize every transaction across your enterprise. Additionally, you can centralize identities to improve audits and compliance with full user lifecycle management.

Currently, there’s only one true hybrid IAM solution on the market. It’s made available through ForgeRock Identity Cloud, which includes our complete platform delivered as-a-service with the option to also deploy as software anywhere. All of this is offered with a single subscription and simplified pricing model. The net-net? With ForgeRock Identity Cloud you’re able to cover all your on-premises, private, and public clouds, in addition to as-a-service environments with one comprehensive solution. 

For more information, visit our hybrid IAM page or watch the joint ForgeRock and Google Cloud webinar: Drive to Cloud with Hybrid IAM.