Cloud-based infrastructure is no longer just for ‘early adopters’ or progressive companies. It is fast becoming a top priority for enterprises of all sizes and markets. In fact, Gartner predicts that 90 percent of organizations will have a hybrid IT infrastructure by 2020. And while the cloud offers tremendous benefits in terms of cost savings, speed to value and simplicity – and in many cases a cloud first approach is mandated by the company – it’s not as simple as flipping a switch.
Like any significant technology initiative, moving any infrastructure into the cloud requires forethought and preparation to be successful. Organizations must think through what issues they are really trying to solve and how those issues are prioritized against the business needs.
What does this mean for identity?
For many enterprises, a cloud-first IT strategy means a chance to focus on the core drivers of the business versus managing technology solutions. As these enterprises consider a cloud-first approach to take advantage of the associated benefits, they’re also interested in moving their IT infrastructure and security to the cloud for the same reasons. And identity will not be left behind.
The big question for many IT operations departments is: first, can you move your identity governance solution to the cloud? And then, perhaps more importantly, should you? The answers to these questions will vary from company to company. They are dependent on the needs of the business, the current structure of the identity program and the industry the organization is in.
Should You Move Your Identity Program to the Cloud?
As you evaluate whether or not you should move your identity solution into the cloud, it’s important to remember that the key factor you’ll be measured on is success of the program – not the success of the solution. That is – the identity issues you’re having (and solving) will take the center stage, not necessarily how it is deployed. With that in mind, we’ve outlined a few steps to help you determine if moving your identity solution into the cloud is the right option for you.
- Evaluate your current program. First, before making any changes to your identity program, it’s important to look at where you are now. What does your current program look like? What is working and what isn’t? Have you made any recent changes to your department structure? Has your organization implemented any other cloud-based infrastructures? How ‘identity aware’ is your staff? Answering these questions will help you understand if your organization is flexible to benefit from SaaS and provide a foundation for the next step in your decision process.
- Determine the end goal. Once you’ve taken stock of your current identity situation, you need to determine what you want out of your identity program now and in the future. An identity governance solution is a long-term investment. The crux of any identity governance solution should be to provide visibility and automation of user access to corporate resources. However, to be successful, your identity governance solution has to solve for more than just ‘identity’ problems. It has to fit into the organization’s overall strategy and support (if not drive) critical business initiatives. With this in mind, think about what critical initiatives your business is undertaking. Does your organization work with a large amount of external users (partners, suppliers, etc.)? Does your business pride itself on innovation or customer service? Understanding your business objectives will provide insight into the type of identity governance deployment that’s best.
- Outline your plan of attack. Once you’ve evaluated where you are and where you want to go with your identity governance solution, you’ve probably made a decision about the type of deployment that may work best. If you’ve decided to go with a cloud deployment option – relatively speaking, a newer model for solving identity issues – you should take the extra step of planning your implementation to ensure the highest level of success. From your first stage – understand what you really need from your identity program – not just what you want. Use that to identify use cases that can be uniquely solved by a cloud-based identity governance deployment and create a timeline to prioritize those first. Quick wins and high-value use cases will benefit both you and the business by demonstrating visible success with your cloud-based identity governance deployment.
Winning with Cloud-Based Identity Governance
As cloud adoption becomes more and more prevalent, many identity professionals will entertain the idea of a cloud-first approach to identity governance, whether by choice or mandate. By focusing on the right priorities, building a feasible timeline and communicating expectations and results with not only the identity team, but also the organization as a whole, the sky is the limit with cloud-based identity governance.