The time has come to modernize your on-premises identity and access management (IAM) system. As organizations of all sizes and across industries move data and applications to the cloud, some — particularly those with sensitive financial and consumer data — still keep at least some of their IT infrastructure on premises. As a result, these companies end up having to maintain an environment with multiple IAM point solutions that often include a mix of legacy on-premises applications and newer, cloud-based applications.

This is becoming increasingly costly and burdensome. IT staff struggle to keep up with help desk requests, employee onboarding and offboarding, password resets, and changes to access rights. End users, on the other hand, must remember multiple passwords, which is bad for productivity and security.

6 Steps to Centralize IAM in the Cloud

For these reasons, many companies are looking to modernize their IAM processes by moving to a centralized, cloud-based system. Chief information officers (CIOs) and chief information security officers (CISOs) are seeking ways to implement a modern solution that can protect both on-cloud and on-premises data and systems from the latest threats while providing maximum convenience for their end users.

If you’re considering consolidating and moving IAM to the cloud, the following six recommendations can help you along the way.

1. Gain Buy-In From All Stakeholders

A key step in any successful IAM modernization project is explaining to all stakeholders — both IT executives and line of business managers — the benefits of switching to a cloud-based system. Notifying stakeholders well ahead of time, setting expectations and communicating about the progress of the project (as well as any delays or setbacks) will help you gain the support you need for a project that will eventually affect everyone in the organization.

If possible, outline quantifiable benefits, such as a reduction in the number of help desk requests and productivity gains from adopting single sign-on (SSO).

2. Use IAM as a Tool for Digital Transformation

Transferring the IAM workload to the cloud can help accelerate your organization’s digital transformation and thus add value to the business. Automating many of the steps involved in access management by switching to cloud IAM can free up IT resources for other tasks more directly related to driving the business.

3. Scan Systems for Security Vulnerabilities

Applications that use older legacy technology may have security vulnerabilities that have not been fixed due to end of maintenance or lack of support. Vulnerabilities can be detected with static scanning of source code or dynamic scanning of applications in operation.

To reduce risk, scan all affected applications before migrating to cloud-based IAM. Automated tools are available to help in the scanning process.

4. Perform Threat Modeling of the New Architecture

Threat modeling is a process by which IT security teams test a proposed IAM system at the architect stage to identify any weak areas in the design. Best practices for threat modeling include reviewing architecture diagrams, evaluating data storage methods, and reviewing planned authentication and authorization strategies. This approach reduces the chance of security gaps lingering into later stages of the process, saving development costs in the long run.

5. Modernize IAM in Stages

As you map out a modernization timetable, consider taking a staged approach to spread out the implementation over a period of months or years. You may want to first address the systems that are easiest to migrate and use the experience gained in that effort to guide the process in subsequent stages.

6. Rely on the Solution Provider’s Expertise

An experienced cloud service provider will have been through the IAM modernization process before, in different industries and for different use cases. The provider can help with migration planning and execution. Their team will be able to anticipate problems, identify obstacles and work with you to create a road map that will lead to a smooth transition.

The Economic Impact of Identity and Access Management

Modernizing your IAM can deliver both security and business benefits. And, fortunately, it can be done at a reasonable cost that delivers an attractive return on investment (ROI).

Download “The Forrester Total Economic Impact of IBM Identity and Access Management (IAM) Services” study to learn how a Fortune 500 healthcare organization implemented a system that produced an ROI of 101 percent with a payback period of only 15 months.

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