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Top 3 Reasons to Modernize Your IAM Program

Organizations relying on legacy Identity and Access Management (IAM) programs may be missing out on critical opportunities to achieve crucial security objectives while consolidating platforms, streamlining resource management and optimizing costs.

As the cyberthreat landscape grows more intricate and dangerous every day, the role of identity and access management (IAM) programs has become a critical lynchpin of cybersecurity. While traditional IAM programs may have previously been designed to simply provision user identities and grant access to qualified users, today’s complex, distributed environments demand IAM programs that go much further.

Though most organizations already have an IAM program in place providing security leaders practices, processes and technologies to manage identities, modernizing an IAM program means moving beyond the technical operations to a more strategic function focused on business objectives.

A modern IAM program brings together identity governanceaccess management and privileged access management into one unified, cloud-based solution that is built with improved security and almost unlimited scalability in place. With tools like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) built in, modern IAM programs help organizations of all sizes achieve critical security objectives while consolidating platforms, streamlining resource management and optimizing costs

Here are the top three reasons to consider modernizing your organization’s IAM program:

1. Cloud-based flexibility.

It’s no secret that traditional on-premises IAM solutions may no longer meet the demands of modern business ecosystems against today’s complex and frequent cyberthreats. Because they can be so difficult to build and maintain, on-premises IAM solutions are unlikely to scale horizontally or vertically, and may not integrate with certain required systems.

Modern IAM programs, however, are cloud-based and function as Software as a Service, enabling organizations with unlimited scaling features in any of the top cloud providers. This ensures a seamless user experience even for the most geographically dispersed workforce. This flexibility, along with advanced authentication mechanisms such as multifactor authentication (MFA) and biometric verification, provide a robust defense against unauthorized access attempts, mitigating risks associated with phishing and other cyberattacks.

Resource management lies at the heart of any effective IAM program. Ensuring that authorized users have timely access to appropriate resources while promptly revoking access when needed is a non-negotiable priority for safeguarding sensitive data. While role-based access controls (RBAC) are not a new concept, implementing an RBAC model has proven to be extremely complex and challenging. A cloud- based IAM system rapidly enables organizations to implement role-based access controls (RBAC) that align with job functions by leveraging in between AI and ML functionality.

IAM platforms automate third-party life cycle management, as well as user provisioning and deprovisioning based on predefined rules and workflows — reducing the risk of human errors and unauthorized access. They can even monitor access in real time and send alerts about suspicious activities to quickly identify and respond to potential security threats. Additionally, advanced analytics and reporting capabilities provide valuable insights into access patterns and potential anomalies, empowering organizations to proactively identify and remediate security risks.

2. Cost optimization.

From upfront hardware investments to staffing, to ongoing maintenance and upgrades, on-premises IAM platforms can be expensive to build and difficult to maintain. Coupled with the fact that ROI can be slow to realize, it’s no wonder that some organizations who have already built and implemented an IAM solution are hesitant to move to a modern platform.

A good example of this is a recent client who called on CDW experts to modernize their IAM program. This client had spent a long time building an infrastructure to support their IAM platform. This required hiring and training teams for implementation as well as maintenance of the infrastructure (network, storage and compute), along with purchasing the hardware and customizing the platform itself. By the time this client had rolled it out to their end users and fixed the production bugs identified during testing, however, this client realized that their entire platform was already out of date and in need of upgrades.

By contrast, cloud-based IAM platforms operate on a subscription-based model and can be built and customized quickly. Organizations no longer need to become dependent on the skilled resources managing their IAM platforms and can spend less on resources required to build and maintain the infrastructure. Modern IAM platforms not only provide a much faster ROI, but also alleviate the burden of hardware procurement and maintenance, allowing organizations to scale their resources based on actual usage while optimizing expenditures.

3. Platform centralization.

One of the key challenges that organizations of all sizes face today is the proliferation of disparate applications, each with its own identity management system. This approach can complicate user access management, increase security vulnerabilities and ultimately lead to operational inefficiencies. In response, forward-thinking organizations are turning to platform consolidation, integrating multiple identity systems into a unified IAM platform.

Centralization of IAM processes not only streamlines administrative tasks but also simplifies auditing and compliance procedures. This approach empowers businesses to swiftly respond to security threats while facilitating a seamless user experience across applications and services.

A centralized cloud IAM platform also ensures automated maintenance and updates, ensuring that the IAM solution is always updated with the latest security fixes and patches.

Next Steps to IAM Program Modernization

A robust and adaptable approach to identity and access management has never been more important than it is today. With more users connecting to networks and assets from more devices than ever, organizations everywhere are turning to modern, cloud-based IAM platforms.

So, where should you start?

Remember, an IAM implementation is a program moving along a maturity curve, not a project. Before thinking about how to build and manage an IAM program, your organization must consider why it must be implemented.

Only 50 percent of the IAM implementation process is about choosing the right products and technologies — the remainder consists of knowing and understanding your business processes and planning your desired outcomes along a multi-year roadmap.

An expert partner with deep expertise successfully implementing and maintaining IAM programs across industries and specific verticals can help make this journey as seamless as possible. By embracing the power of cloud-based IAM for enterprises and for consumers, businesses can optimize costs, consolidate platforms, and enhance resource management — all while bolstering their cybersecurity defenses with cutting-edge security technologies powered by AI and ML.

Asif Syed

Senior Director of IAM CDW Security Practice
Asif Syed is a senior director of CDW’s IAM security practice. Asif provides client resources and project teams alike with industry insight, thought leadership and technical expertise to deliver scalable IAM solutions.

Rizwan Malik

Senior Director of IAM CDW Security Practice
Rizwan Malik is a senior director of CDW’s IAM security practice. Rizwan’s expertise in IT security architecture supports a diverse range of client organizations with planning, designing, implementing and integrating new IAM platforms and enhanced IT security systems.