What is Identity as a Service (IDaaS)?

Identity as a service (IDaaS) is a cloud-delivered identity and access management (IAM) system, which Forrester defines as "The policies, processes, and technologies that digital businesses employ to establish identities and control access to their resources across dynamic ecosystems of value."

Like traditional IAM software, which was typically housed in an enterprise data center, the purpose of IDaaS is to ensure that users are who they say they are and to provide them with appropriate levels of access to the applications, data, and other resources they're authorized to use.

IAM vs. IDaaS

Historically, organizations have invested heavily in on-premises IAM systems. With the rapid shift to cloud services, they found maintaining these legacy systems to be increasingly complex. To gain more flexibility, scalability, and agility, some organizations opted to deploy their legacy on-premises IAM solutions in their own private clouds, leveraging the public cloud as another data center. Of course, this required a great deal of in-house IAM operations expertise, and many organizations found it difficult to hire, train, and retain professionals with the needed skills.

For some companies, the skills gap gave rise to outsourcing identity management to a third party to run and maintain its on-premises identity service. For others, it meant migrating to a cloud service for IAM, which would reduce the management overhead.

Unfortunately, many early IDaaS offerings lacked the depth and breadth of functionality offered by traditional enterprise IAM solutions. But as organizations moved more applications to the cloud, and users were no longer connected to the corporate network, organizations became willing to sacrifice some of the robust capabilities and features of legacy enterprise IAM systems to be early adopters of pure-play IDaaS solutions and cloud IAM solutions.

Today, as cloud-delivered IAM has matured, an enterprise-grade solution should have feature parity across cloud and on-premises deployments so that teams don't have to make a tough choice between capability and deployment options.

In addition, it's important for IDaaS to coexist with legacy IAM solutions by supporting federation or native integrations where possible.

Benefits of IDaaS

As with other cloud-delivered applications and services, the benefits of IDaaS and cloud IAM systems are improved security and flexibility, with reduced costs and complexity. At the same time, a robust IDaaS solution can provide great user experiences, which helps to onboard customers faster and build loyalty.

Because IDaaS authentication can be based on a variety of authentication methods, it offers a stronger security posture and improved user experience. Another compelling reason to migrate legacy IAM systems to a cloud service is scalability, which means that you can easily handle fluctuations in traffic during seasonal events or other occasions that create major traffic surges.

There's no need to maintain software and servers, so IDaaS creates operational efficiencies, while improving reliability and availability. These are the same reasons behind the shift to the cloud in general.

Use cases for IDaaS

A sophisticated IDaaS system should be able to solve the majority of your Identity and Access Management (IAM) use cases with a single offering, including:

  • Identity management: Every entity that connects to another in your organization — people, devices, things, applications — has a digital identity, and each identity has certain roles and permissions that must be managed. For many organizations, user identities can number in the millions. Identity management automates many of IAM processes to boost speed and efficiency while reducing risk.
  • Access management: Access management allows you to provide a secure and personalized login and user access experience. It ensures that users can only get to those resources they're authorized to access to reduce the risk of misuse, fraud, and malicious activity.
  • Single sign-on (SSO): SSO allows users to login once to gain secure access to multiple applications, improving the user experience, cutting costs, and reducing risk. It also centralizes digital identity and user access information to provide IT teams visibility into each user's roles and entitlements.
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA): Because the username/password combination has become inherently risky, MFA adds a layer of security, requiring an additional factor, such as a fingerprint, a key, a push notification from an authentication app, one-time passwords, among others, to verify a user's identity.
  • Passwordless authentication: Passwordless authentication provides friction-free and secure access, while strengthening security and reducing help-desk costs.

The future of IAM is in the cloud

Organizations are facing the need to not only modernize legacy identity and access management (IAM) infrastructure for the cloud, but also support existing and new cloud initiatives while ensuring enough resources remain focused on overall IT modernization.

A comprehensive cloud IAM platform can help organizations simplify access, save money, and grow revenue. According to Forrester Research, organizations can reduce their IT operations and development costs by up to 80% by using cloud IAM solutions. Labor costs are also 80% to 90% lower for initial and ongoing maintenance and development of a cloud IAM solution.

To plan for your organization's future in the cloud, you need a comprehensive, enterprise-grade identity platform that supports your priorities with a combination of usability, customizability, and operational cost savings. At the same time, most organizations have certain legacy applications that cannot migrate to a cloud service, they need a solution that combines the benefits of IDaaS with on-premises IAM. The ideal solution should be easy to deploy across any environment, adaptable to fit specific industry requirements, and conform to an organization's use cases and desired business outcomes.

ForgeRock Identity Cloud is a comprehensive IAM service that can be deployed anywhere — on premises, in a private cloud, or in a public cloud. It's the market's first true IAM platform as a service — the one platform for all your identities. ForgeRock is the only identity provider that offers a full suite of modern capabilities for any identity and access need, in any business environment, all within a single implementation.

To learn more about ForgeRock Identity Cloud solution, click here.

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