Identity & Access Management

5 steps to distributed, multi-cloud identity management

It’s not a question of if your organization relies on more than one cloud, but how many? Most enterprises today use three or more public clouds. Leading providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Entra ID, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP), but other smaller players abound. As multiple clouds proliferate, distributed identities now traverse firewalls to the realm of the cloud and multi-cloud.

Some of the big reasons behind the increased demand for using multiple clouds are the need for greater agility, flexibility/scalability, better network performance, identity resilience, improved risk management, avoiding vendor lock-in, and getting more competitive pricing.

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. 

It’s all the more challenging because of the requirement to sustain existing infrastructure during the transition when companies find themselves in a hybrid cloud situation. As a result, migrating from legacy systems to the cloud is complex work.

 Related reading: The TEI of the Maverics Identity Orchestration Platform

5 steps to making multi-cloud identity management work

Many CISOs are acutely aware that their transition to multi-cloud is lagging behind their goals. If the prospect of getting started is overwhelming or you’re in the midst of the transition and can’t see the light, we’ve created a five-step guide to help you get back on track with making multi-cloud a success in your organization. 

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.

Migrate and modernize your multi-cloud identity 

The five steps outlined above are high-level guideposts to help you begin your journey with 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 learn more about how Identity Orchestration can help your company with its transition to multi-cloud, download the State of Multi-Cloud Identity Report 2023.

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