Enterprises are grappling with increased complexity as cloud adoption increases, the perimeter expands, and digital transformation projects take hold. The accelerated shift to remote working has only added to the complexity. As more businesses leverage hybrid IT environments in their digital transformation journey, many confront challenges managing identities and access across multiple applications, clouds, networks and servers.
With increased complexity comes an accelerated need to put strong identity governance in place. But this can be difficult to navigate – and can seem a costly nuisance when not done right, especially as many organizations are dealing with legacy systems that can’t meet future needs.
Once you’ve realized that you need an identity governance solution in your organization, how do you embark on this initiative? The selection process can be a costly, drawn-out and ineffective exercise, if not planned and executed carefully. Below are best practices for evaluating an identity governance solution and choosing the right partner for rapid, cost- effective success.
Challenges: Budget, TCO and time to value
Identity governance solutions have to work overtime in the wake of digital transformation. It is critical for organizations to consider the new demands of administration, monitoring and control of user access before migrating to the cloud. Digital transformation inevitably means more mobile devices and transactions. It requires access to be granted anywhere, any time, leading to new polices and legislations that need to be supported.
Budget concerns are always a major issue – security is like insurance in that it can seem expensive until you need it. And because of this, it can be tough for CISOs to make the business case for identity governance in comparison to other projects with a seemingly more immediate and hard ROI.
To ensure quick implementation, many organizations are looking at full-featured, cloud-based identity governance and administration (IGA) solutions. Even those organizations that start off with an on-premises solution must ensure that their vendor of choice has a clear and frictionless route to the cloud when the time is right.
How to evaluate and prepare for IGA
Regardless of the different factors complicating the situation, identity governance is something organizations must take seriously, or they run the risk of data breaches, compromised information and the fines. That’s not mention the potential legal and reputational ramifications that inevitably result. But not all solutions are the right fit for your organization’s unique needs; in fact, Gartner’s Critical Capabilities for Identity Governance and Administration Report found that about half of current IGA deployments are in distress. Examining a few key areas during evaluation of solutions can go a long way to helping prevent your deployment from going south.
Scalability is essential. If a solution can’t expand and meet the future needs of the business, it will end up being more of a problem than an answer. When you make the investment in an IGA solution, pick one that doesn’t hamper agility and growth.
Another critical factor is time to value. You want a solution that will deliver in the shortest period of time – not one that gets your project lost in set up and endless planning. For an enterprise cloud deployment, your chosen IGA solution should deliver value in under 12 weeks.
And then there’s the matter of configuration, not customization. In the past, many identity governance and IT implementations have been more about bending the tool to the organization, and there is now a real appetite to reverse that. Configuration and process alignment to best practices will dramatically reduce total cost of ownership.
Once you’ve decided to deploy a new, modern IGA solution, it’s important to take certain steps to ensure success. Analyze where your organization currently is in terms of identity governance. Then, consider where you want to be. Finally, evaluate how can get there and who with. This will be essential to determining how you can close that gap. You need to understand where you are on the journey and what you need to do to take the next steps.
Ensuring successful deployment
Make sure to adopt a best-practice process framework, which will include the most important processes needed to ensure a successful IGA deployment. These include:
Access Management: Look for a solution that supports automated provisioning and de-provisioning of users’ access. Features that allow automated provisioning and assignment of access rights via rules and policies enable quick roll-out of access to new business applications.
Identity Lifecycle Management: A best practice solution controls employee, customer and partners’ lifecycles. It manages employees’ or contractors access rights as they join the company, change roles and leave the company.
Emergency Lock-out: If there is an identity security breach, the administrator can perform an emergency lockout to suspend all accounts associated with a compromised identity. Once the situation is contained and any access violation has been mitigated, the administrator can reactivate access.
Aligning with Business: Policies, roles and contexts can be designed to accurately model and reflect the business structure. There are automated processes for onboarding of new applications as a virtual resource, including providing meaningful business descriptions and setting default access rights based on the existing policies.
Streamlined Administration: Managing passwords, applications and systems ensures the smooth onboarding of business systems so they can be brought under management in the IGA system. Look for a solution that enables easy password reset without helpdesk contact, with synchronization of passwords across all connected applications so users only have one password to remember.
Governance: Strong governance secures validation and approval of the current state of identities, account ownerships and resource assignments. It enables easy-access review, cross-system reporting and analysis. Make sure you can define and manage segregation of duties (SoD) policies, including toxic combinations of access rights. Look for the ability to classify data types, as this improves management of and reporting on systems that contain business-sensitive or GDPR-critical data. The data classification features improve general management and oversight of data assets and enable fact-based conclusions and decision-making.
Complexity is only increasing in our digitized world. So is cybercrime, with identity theft a perennial favorite. Cloud deployments make IGA a critical business necessity to safeguard data, remain compliant and avoid steep fines from regulatory bodies. It can be tricky to navigate the field of identity governance solutions, as they can become money- and time-consuming with a low time to value and a high TCO. Use the best-practice recommendations noted above to help with your due diligence process and ensure success with your IGA project. Modern IGA solutions today offer full-featured IGA, that is cloud native, enterprise ready and can be deployed rapidly.