Identity & Access Management

Distributed, multi-cloud identity management in 5 steps

Stepping stones in azure blue water

In a Dark Reading article, Eric Olden, CEO and Co-founder of Strata Identity, highlighted the five steps enterprises can follow to strengthen distributed identity management in a multi-cloud infrastructure. 

The multi-cloud market has seen continuous growth as enterprises recognize the value in shifting to a distributed identity model. Benefits include:

Many enterprises are acutely aware that their transition to multi-cloud is lagging behind the front runners. If you’re keen to catch up, now’s a good time to revisit the five steps to develop and implement a robust multi-cloud identity strategy. 

But first, let’s take a closer look at the business case for implementing a distributed security model. 

Related reading: The ROI on Identity Modernization & Migration with Strata

Why choose a distributed identity security model?

As multi-cloud proliferates, distributed identities now traverse firewalls to the realm of the cloud and multi-cloud. Experience has shown that manual efforts to support IAM in a multi-cloud environment are costly, slow, and prone to human errors. 

Each platform uses a specific integrated identity system in a multi-cloud environment, thereby introducing identity silos to the system. Research shows that the vast majority of companies that have infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) have more than one provider – usually three or more. 

As a result, migrating from legacy systems to the cloud is complex work. It’s all the more challenging because of the requirement to sustain existing infrastructure during the transition. SaaS apps that rely on identity-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions create additional identity silos.  

5 steps to a successful distributed identity management model

Leaders have sunk costs in their legacy infrastructure and expect the old and new to integrate seamlessly during modernization. Follow these five steps to optimize the success of your transition to a distributed multi-cloud identity infrastructure:

Step 1: Choose a distributed architecture. 

To eliminate the pain points of IAM in legacy systems, a distributed architecture is required. With Identity Orchestration software, distributed identities navigate with ease across the entire system using an abstraction layer. 

Step 2: Leave your legacy infrastructure behind. 

Embrace the opportunity to modernize your infrastructure and opt to decommission legacy infrastructure. By upgrading to IaaS options, you can tidy up the remnants of the past, such as:

  • Terminate dormant accounts 
  • Enforce secure reactivation of approved accounts
  • Review existing group memberships and access levels
  • Update, consolidate, and consistently implement access policies
  • Identify security vulnerabilities such as compromised credentials

Step 3: Discover and map your identity and app landscape.

Ensure your new distributed identity strategy rests on a solid footing of good clean data. Explore the location, dependencies, and access levels of all components of your system. This is essential to the future successful implementation of your strategy. 

Step 4: Integrate old and new with standards, not APIs.

Standards such as SAML, OIDC, and SCIM can spare you the pain (and costs) of manual rewrites or negotiating vendor lock-in. With automation, an abstraction layer (called an identity fabric) can enable 1-to-any connectivity instead of slowly and manually recoding on a 1:1 basis. 

Step 5: Adopt an incremental change process. 

Plan to transition apps and identities in small batches to reduce risks and disruptions to users. Common groupings include:

  • Highest complexity — cookie-based sessions and IAM SDKs
  • Medium complexity— HTTP headers and custom features
  • Lowest complexity — standards-based sessions such as SAML and OIDC

Delineating between complex and more straightforward app migrations is helpful during the planning process.

Upgrade your digital multi-cloud identity with abstraction

The five steps outlined above will bring transformational change to your distributed identity management in a multi-cloud context. To ensure your team can optimize the newly gained benefits from this project, it’s essential to assess what resources and investments will be needed to support the new ecosystem. 

Existing skillsets and capabilities will be beneficial and transferable during the initial post-transition period, where legacy and multi-cloud infrastructure co-exist. Once apps and services reach their end-of-service (EOS) and are decommissioned, resources can be redirected to other business needs.  

At this stage, it’s rewarding to evaluate the project’s cost savings and explore how those savings could be reallocated for other essential business needs. 

To hear more details about how Strata Identity Orchestration software can help your company with its transition, watch the video.

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