The protection and privacy of customer and corporate data are mission-critical for every organization, and thus there is clearly no scope for it to be compromised on. As these organizations move to the cloud, they must ensure their IT infrastructure and data are covered by robust security and privacy solutions. According to Gartner Cloud Shift Impacts All IT Markets report, by 2024, more than 45% of IT spending on system infrastructure, infrastructure software, application software and business process outsourcing will shift from traditional solutions to the cloud. 

Identity access and management (IAM), or identity, is foundational for protecting resources and data, no matter where they’re located, particularly when hosted, stored and consumed within cloud environments. This includes private clouds, public cloud infrastructure and IT platforms, cloud application services and hybrid clouds.

Identity has two primary components; authentication and authorization. Cloud provider identity services will provide authentication into their service using single-sign-on (SSO) or multifactor authentication (MFA). However, they do not provide authorization that controls where users can go, and what they can do. 

Siloed identity products will not control gaps across heterogeneous multi-clouds 

Identity solutions control who can access a network and resources and where, when and what they can do. Every cloud provider has their own identity service to protect data and resources within their environments. However, their identity services will not protect connections to and from the cloud provider. Nor will they protect access to resources and data of other cloud providers. Organizations that utilize multiple clouds, like AWS, Azure, Salesforce, ServiceNow, and others, have incongruent silos of identity protection that they must coordinate and manage. This dysfunction is not unlike the problems associated with heterogeneous single-function networks and security products that organizations have sprawled throughout their data centers.

Siloed identity solutions, whether home-grown, purchased and managed internally, or provided by a cloud service, lack visibility and control between them. This creates security gaps that are inherent in heterogeneous systems. Additionally, each identity service has its own dashboard and policy control. According to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Incident Report, misconfiguration of cloud services is the second largest cause of breaches, eclipsed only by hacking. These disparities and inconsistent policy models slow the mitigation of malicious events and make it difficult to find misconfigured elements. Cloud security vulnerabilities are many, from misconfigured AWS S3 buckets that leave data out in the open, to poorly developed access management functions, giving threat actors easy access. 

Identity orchestration tackles siloed cloud identity risks

Scaling identity, with visibility across multi-clouds that can respond quickly to cybersecurity incidents, requires extensible identity orchestration. The ability to orchestrate identity policy requires an abstraction of the various identity services and components. The identity solution must aggregate and coalesce them into one unified platform, where everything can be viewed and controlled from a single interface. To accomplish this requires a single identity policy standard, or single identity policy of truth, that can be orchestrated across heterogeneous products and services. 

Organizations today have remote workforces, mobile users, third parties, distributed supply chains and myriad IoT devices. To bring everything under one identity platform requires a centralized, comprehensive approach. It includes a single identity policy model for security, authentication, authorization, governance, and privacy controls, that extend consistently across the enterprise and all of its cloud service environments. This will enable centralized and consistent monitoring that pushes the identity controls out to the various cloud services. 

The ability to centrally control a single enterprise identity standard for access and authorization is a primary tenant of a zero-trust model. The objective is to achieve maximum security and privacy maturity across all applications and systems. The goal is to realize one hundred percent identity adoption with zero user friction. Unified identity policy orchestration allows organizations to easily track and analyze their identity controls to improve performance throughout their entire IT and security ecosystem through KPIs.

Bringing everything under one identity platform

Identity boils down to a person with different credentials for various accounts to access and work with cloud services, like AWS, Azure, Salesforce, and other enterprise assets. The challenge is to bring everything together with the different user personas, coalesce the various identity siloes. This can be accomplished by abstracting the identity layer and having a policy engine that ties enterprise policies together. Then the aggregated applications and cloud services can be mapped, and performance can be reported on explicit policies associated with specific applications or cloud services.

The identity landscape consists of a jumble of legacy systems, on-premise solutions from numerous vendors, and multiple cloud services. The challenge for all organizations is finding an IAM solution capable of delivering truly unified policy orchestration with a centralized view of aggregated identity products and services. There are two ways to obtain this capability. One is to develop a custom platform internally by hiring a cadre of domain experts and acquiring all the necessary technology. The other is to work with an identity service provider that operates as a vendor-agnostic conduit to provide full cloud stack integration with all cloud services and identity products from software vendors.