Cloud computing is here to stay and is changing how IT and business users alike are thinking about how we deploy, implement and consume technology across the enterprise. We have seen a continuous wave of traditional software tools moving to SaaS models, as vendors have begun to address the various requirements of enterprise-level SaaS.

On the other hand, the shift to deploying complex enterprise SaaS is not always an easy one, especially for mission-critical infrastructure like identity management. The good news is that as the industry begins to deliver more robust and enterprise-grade IDaaS solutions, organizations have more offerings at their disposal that allow them to manage all their apps .– SaaS and on-premises apps alike – .from the cloud. Implementing Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) increases business agility, speeds time to value and reduces operating costs while concurrently helping your organization keep data safe and meet compliance requirements.

IDaaS adoption may take several years, and IDaaS may not be the right fit for every organization. Today, there is a small, growing number of organizations that want to move their identity management infrastructure to the cloud, but you should expect those numbers to grow.

IDaaS Adoption is Rapidly Growing

IDaaS may seem like it is a relatively new topic in the identity space, but not only has it been a part of the identity management market for years, it has also grown dramatically. Gartner predicts that 40% of identity and access management purchases will be delivered from the cloud by 2020, up from just 20% in 2016. Clearly, IDaaS is well on its way to becoming a force with which to be reckoned.

SaaS applications are known for their portability and ease with which they are implemented. SaaS apps are easy to turn on and off at nearly a moment’s notice, but are also known for their general lack of customization. These cloud apps are usually purchased as they come, and you trade limited customization options in exchange for lower implementation time and cost, as well as reduced maintenance requirements. SaaS apps update without the involvement of your IT department, and not just within the software itself; its connectors to both cloud apps and your on-premises apps can also be done relatively quickly and easily.

SaaS is changing the way organizations deploy new applications – without sacrificing feature sets – and identity management is no different.

More organizations are comfortable with cloud applications, and as the aforementioned numbers show, they’re extending that agreeableness to identity management . However, every organization must ensure they are ready for IDaaS before implementing the technology. Identity management is a key component of enterprise mission-critical infrastructure, so it’s not the place to start “cutting your teeth” on SaaS. Rather, it is an ideal opportunity to implement if you are already taking a cloud-first approach.

Since identity management is such an integral part of how your business functions, if you are not already well-versed and experienced in how the cloud application market operates, Identity management shouldn’t be your first foray into this new world. But if you have already added apps like SalesForce or Box to your repetoire, then it may be worth the look.

As a critical component of the enterprise IT infrastructure, IDaaS must meet the most stringent security, scalability, performance and availability requirements.

Do Your Identity Management Needs Align with an IDaaS Solution?

Is there widespread use of SaaS/cloud technologies across your organization?

Take a look at what your organization is currently doing with other SaaS applications. You need to determine if your organization is an early cloud adopter – i.e. if there are SaaS applications being deployed throughout the organization, including within the IT department. If the answer is yes, then IDaaS might be right for you. There are definitely organizations where this is not the case, especially in highly regulated industries. If your organization has taken a conservative stance on the cloud, then IDaaS is probably not the right choice.

Is reducing initial deployment and ongoing maintenance costs more important than the ability to tailor a solution to meet your current business process?

Many of our customers have complex infrastructures and use cases, and for them a highly tailored identity management solution deployed on-premises is the most realistic option. While IDaaS provides configuration options, it will not accommodate the level of customization that is typical in identity management projects. You need to examine if the trade-off is right for you: simplicity of deployment and lower cost of ownership over time versus a solution tailored to your specific needs. If you’re willing to bend existing identity processes to conform to a more standardized approach, then IDaaS may be the path for you.

Are SaaS options becoming an executive mandate?

It has been well-documented that SaaS applications offer benefits that appeal to the C-level executives, including faster time to value, ease of use, and lower operational and upgrade costs. Due to this broad scope of benefits, we are starting to see IT teams that are required to consider SaaS every time they evaluate and purchase new software. If this is the case with identity management, be sure you are evaluating true SaaS offerings that provide the end-to-end solution you need. Many of the options available today are simply a hosted version of an on-premises identity management solution, which does not provide the benefits promised by SaaS.

Once you have answered these three questions and taken a hard look at whether your organization is ready to try IDaaS, the next step is to determine what needs you have for an identity management solution. Is it a holistic view of all your on-premises and cloud applications? Compliance and audit readiness? Single sign-on and password management to relieve your overburdened IT department? The questions above and the ones that naturally follow will lead you to the right solution for your organization.

Identity management plays a critical role in addressing cloud security and compliance issues by providing a centralized, holistic approach to managing access for any enterprise application. Regardless of whether you deploy it on-premises or as-a-service, the right approach to identity management can help ensure that your organization has the right controls in place to, ultimately, protect assets and manage corporate risk.

Find out how SailPoint can help your organization.

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