What is Identity as a Service?

Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) is a cloud-based solution that organizations use for Identity and Access Management (IAM).

Historically, organizations used on-premises solutions for IAM. IDaaS solutions are Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products that help organizations reduce the risks associated with IAM while offering the flexibility, scalability and cost-effectiveness of a cloud deployment model.

Examples of IDaaS

IDaaS solutions may perform functions ranging from the very specific, like Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), to the very broad, such as combined Single Sign-On (SSO) and cloud directory. Here are some common examples of IDaaS:

  • Single Sign-On (SSO) solutions enable employees to access all of their SaaS applications by logging in once to a single centralized portal, which is usually accessed through a web browser. Likewise, organizations can manage employee access to SaaS applications using a central dashboard.
  • MFA requires users to present at least two authentication factors to log into a website or application, such as a password and a one-time code. Adaptive MFA goes a step further by using contextual information (such as the user’s location, IP address or device type) to dynamically grant access based on the risk that the user presents. For example, users may be prohibited from accessing certain systems unless they’re using the organization’s internet connection.
  • Cloud directory services enable organizations to replace or augment on-prem user directories with a cloud-based option. For example, an organization may use Active Directory for their employees’ digital identities and a cloud-based directory for customers or partners.
  • User-provisioning and lifecycle-management tools allow organizations to easily onboard new employees to the applications they need to begin working; remove access for departing employees; and manage employee access levels throughout the course of a user’s employment.

What Do Identity as a Service Providers Offer?

IDaaS providers enable organizations to leverage the many benefits of cloud computing, including:

  • Reduced costs. Organizations that switch from on-prem identity software to cloud-based IDaaS no longer have to purchase and maintain specialized, expensive hardware or pay their IT staff and developers to maintain the on-prem system.

  • Enhanced productivity. Maintaining an on-prem identity solution, including designing and applying security patches and adapting them with the organization’s needs over time, is tedious and time-consuming. With an IDaaS provider handling back-end software updates and maintenance, internal developers and IT staff are freed up to focus on projects that further the organization’s mission and goals.

  • Easy scalability. Like other SaaS solutions, IDaaS platforms quickly and easily scale up or down as an organization’s needs change.

  • Enhanced security. Because identity security is an IDaaS provider’s core competency, IDaaS platforms are typically more well-maintained than on-prem identity solutions, which reduces the risk of data breaches due to compromised credentials.

Why Use Identity as a Service?

Managing digital identities in today’s cloud-based data environments is challenging, and on-prem identity solutions lack the functionality that modern digital businesses need. Here are some of the many benefits of using an IDaaS platform:

  • Simplify IAM for distributed workforces. Fully remote and hybrid work is the new normal, and IDaaS solutions make it easier to ensure that all users have secure access to the digital resources they need to do their jobs.

  • Manage identities for external users. In most cases, employees aren’t the only ones who need to access organizational network resources. Customers, vendors and business partners need to connect too, and IDaaS solutions give organizations the flexibility they need to apply different IAM rules to different user classes.

  • Faster logins and fewer password resets. SSO allows users to log in to multiple applications using a single set of credentials. In addition to end users working more efficiently, this ensures that IT help desks aren’t inundated with password-reset tickets.

  • Reduce internal and external security risks. IDaaS solutions strengthen password security, minimize vulnerabilities and attack surfaces, and enable security staff to quickly identify potential security risks, such as inappropriate access and policy violations.

  • Improved user experiences. IDaaS solutions eliminate password fatigue and allow users to easily access all their applications from a web-based portal they can log into from any web browser, using any device and in any location.

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