Monday, October 6, 2014

Basics: What constitutes a cloud identity?

Hola!! from Panama City.  At Centrifying we are tasked to represent Centrify in the ISACA Latin America CACS 2014.
We had a chance to educate the attendees in the challenges and concepts of cloud identity and SaaS access controls security.


This new series focuses on Identity as a Service (IdaaS).  As you probably know by now, Centrify has two product lines Server Suite and User Suite.  The first basic topic is to understand what constitutes a cloud identity.  At a basic level, the identity that supports a SaaS application can be as simple as a unique identifier and a password; However, that doesn't translate into a very valuable app.

So what's the problem with SaaS apps as it relates to Identity?

Since SaaS apps extend the IT boundaries beyond the on premises data center over the Internet the most basic issues are around timely provisioning.  Once a user leaves the company if the offboarding process is not timely and efficient, the organization is exposed to a potential data loss.  Unfortunately, just like the issue with the  heterogeneous datacenter, the solution sets today promote capability and process fragmentation and here's where Centrify can help.  Furthermore, let's explore the problem by at further length.

The typical cloud IdaaS providers may make you think that the issue is just Cloud Identity and SSO (federation), but the problem goes beyond that.  Let's explore some aspects:
  • License assignment:  this topic impacts the bottom-line.  How does your process makes sure that the user is properly licensed (no more than what they need), and that licences are administered accordingly.  
    Timely license management has cost implications
  • Role, Profile or Group management:  Depending on the application, entitlements determine what the user can do within the application. This is key for sound security.
    Salesforce provides access to different functions based on the user's profile
  • Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) and 2-Step-verification:  These capabilities are increasingly a must because they are the foundation for different types of policies.  The recent consumer services data-breaches illustrate that need.
    MFA and 2-step verification are a must nowadays, the issue is - how to standardize.
  • Policies:  Each SaaS provider has a different way to deal with policies.  Would it be nice to do it in a single management framework? and wouldn't it be nice if it's enforceable across all endpoints including mobile devices?
    Different SaaS providers provide different policy frameworks
  • Support for Mobile Device Management (MDM) Mobile Application Management (MAM) and Mobile SSO:  This capability is also a must;  as phones and tablets become more powerful, mobile computing is a big tool in the information worker arsenal.
    MDM has become commoditized, MCM is looking for a standard, but MAM and Mobile SSO are growing

Is there a Unified Solution out there that is friendly to Active Directory?

So the question is - What if there's a solution out there that allows you to use an existing infrastructure (AD) to solve all these issues without the need of additional infrastructure or the need of complex Identity synchronization?   


That is what Centrify User Suite is all about! The next posts will focus on the service and 3 apps: Google Apps, Office 365 and Salesforce.  The first post will explore what Federation is and isn't.  Look for the Cloud-labeled articles.

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