Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Sematext Blog

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Open Source Cloud, Cloud Security, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Consolidating the Variables: Augment Existing Identity Management Systems

Using cloud security to expand on-premise investments

The modern enterprise is a fluid entity. As an IT construct it expands and contracts (sometimes simultaneously), and many of the moving parts (like users and applications) are themselves evolving and changing. This creates unique challenges in operational efficiencies, core competency support, compliance observance and risk management.  The central theme to all these challenges is establishing and maintaining control of applications which serve as gateways to all the valuable data (personal, trade secrets and other IP) on which an enterprise exists. Many companies have turned to an identity management solution which administrate and validate the digital identities of authorized users.

This is not a new concept, nor is it a foreign practice to many established enterprises. Identity management combined with controlled and channeled access is a recognized best practice and regulatory compliance necessity. Many companies have invested in some sort of authoritative identity repository and management system.  The rising issue is that in order to keep up with the quickly changing landscape of SaaS, cloud and web –based apps, that investment becomes costlier and the ability to agilely address identity validation and authentication becomes less responsive.

Unless you leverage the cloud to augment existing systems.

Let’s assume an enterprise has made a serious investment in a solution like IBM Tivoli or Oracle Identity Manager.  Both products have significant clout and enterprise functionality. It handles the identity creation, rules management, administration and provisioning for many of the legacy and on-premise products and internal systems. It's no secret that these enterprise monoliths are expensive to purchase, deploy and continuously maintain. So, when examining the scope of applications available to users, several are left unsecured because of the cost and resource drain to incorporate them into IDM fold.  Layered on this is the need to authenticate and authorize users outside of an enterprise’s direct control. This includes 3rd party suppliers, vendors and even customers; all who need access to slivers of data contained in specific applications.

The costs to expand the on-premise authentication scope are broader and deeper than simply adding the subscription price of a SaaS solution. There is the licensing of the adapter (or connector) to allow the data of the SaaS to securely flow between the application and the IDM solution via Active Directory (or other repository source). There is support and maintenance (usually 20% of the purchase price paid annually). There are the professional services to install and configure the connectors. There is the cost of development, time-to-market gaps, and the added burden of doing this multiple times for each SaaS and web-based application.

Yet, by deploying a complimentary IDaaS (identity-as-a-service) strategy, all of the above costs, services and deployment difficulties are considerably reduced or eliminated, while still promoting the necessary security gravitas to assert control, streamline workflow and optimize IT resources. As part of the IDaaS arsenal, most of the popular federated connectors are already available out of the box. IDaaS managed from the cloud also extends its scope to those Non-SAML based application (web-based) through an identity gateway. So, no development costs, no additional licenses, and professional services shrink to a minimum. By creating this umbrella over your virtual footprint, the ability to automatically provision and deprovision user accounts extends to these new applications as seamlessly as if they were parked on-premise. Additionally, creating a parallel-yet-integrated identity manager allows for seamless integration with single sign on. This unique cloud-controlled advantage enforces corporate access policy decisions across the enterprise and puts IT back in control of the IT landscape. It eliminates the potential for Shadow IT applications, BYOD abuse and enables better productivity.

The notion is not to reinvent the wheel, but to expand the metaphor, change out the tires for all-terrain use.  If an organization has spent millions to create a viable identity management system, it is unlikely they will abandon the project to put the entire administration and management in the cloud. However, it is prudent to create a cost-effective, enterprise grade equivalent to integrate new applications, multiple data stores and “outside,” users accounts into a secure and controlled environment. In short, it consolidates the variables into a manageable, automated and centralized strategy without incurring additional resources and runaway costs.

Some call this a hybrid strategy. Regardless of the label, a strategy that extends your capability to authenticate, attest and authorize user names, passwords and permissions beyond your firewall will only strengthen you defense against breach, unwanted usage and data leakage from insider threats. In that it can be done with minimal disturbance and without deep pocket spending makes this all the more attractive and practical.

The automations inherent in IDaaS also facilitates stronger compliance…especially when it comes to monitoring the SaaS and web applications. Instead of an infrequent review of logs real time reports can be instantaneously generated to see exactly who accessed what application. But the cornerstone of compliance is to monitor if any changes were made, especially to access protocols (passwords, user names etc…). IDaaS can note in real time when any attribute changes, who made the change and who approved the change. This is a standard compliance audit requirement.

The proliferation of SaaS and web-based applications has changed the security quotient. Leaving these applications partially secured still leaves them partially unsecured. IDaaS allow you to close those vulnerability gaps. Despite best efforts, network perimeters have all but disappeared. All too often, because of multiple data stores and the virtual left hand does not know what the right is doing.

As noted earlier, your IT environment continues to expand and contract. Just consider the lifecycle of the different users that need to access different applications. New hires, promotions, demotions, firings, new partners, new customers, latent customers-- each instance requires some modification to their identity rights.  Does Chuck, who used to be in your accounting department still have his active user credentials? Has Rachel who hasn’t ordered from your site in 3 years had her account retired? How easy would it be for Chuck, Rachel or some nefarious account takeover hacker using their stolen credentials to create significant havoc on your network? It’s a significant task and greater responsibility to find each data store they have been given access and deprovision, However,  IDaaS can turn off or modify any user account instantly-both in the cloud and through on-premise systems through its connection to Active Directory (or LDAP, AS/400, MySQL, Solaris, RedHat, etc…).

Now multiply the above scenario by 500 or 5000 users a day for a modest enterprise when creating users, resetting passwords and permission sets and you begin to recognize the significant advantages and efficiencies a centralized and augmented with the cloud identity rights management and access control system provide. And the larger the organization, the more complex these data islands are to resolve.

Stronger forms of authentication and authorization need to be deployed in response to the growing threats.  Using an IDaaS and SSO combination from the cloud is a proactive step towards consolidating all the variables and cost-effectively strengthening your identity defenses.

Kevin Nikkhoo
www.cloudaccess.com

More Stories By Kevin Nikkhoo

With more than 32 years of experience in information technology, and an extensive and successful entrepreneurial background, Kevin Nikkhoo is the CEO of the dynamic security-as-a-service startup Cloud Access. CloudAccess is at the forefront of the latest evolution of IT asset protection--the cloud.

Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from McGill University, Master of Computer Engineering at California State University, Los Angeles, and an MBA from the University of Southern California with emphasis in entrepreneurial studies.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Claude Remillard, Principal Program Manager in Developer Division at Microsoft, contrasted how his team used config as code and immutable patterns for continuous delivery of microservices and apps to the cloud. He showed how the immutable patterns helps developers do away with most of the complexity of config as code-enabling scenarios such as rollback, zero downtime upgrades with far greater simplicity. He also demoed building immutable pipelines in the cloud ...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Monitoring of Docker environments is challenging. Why? Because each container typically runs a single process, has its own environment, utilizes virtual networks, or has various methods of managing storage. Traditional monitoring solutions take metrics from each server and applications they run. These servers and applications running on them are typically very static, with very long uptimes. Docker deployments are different: a set of containers may run many applications, all sharing the resource...
Join Impiger for their featured webinar: ‘Cloud Computing: A Roadmap to Modern Software Delivery’ on November 10, 2016, at 12:00 pm CST. Very few companies have not experienced some impact to their IT delivery due to the evolution of cloud computing. This webinar is not about deciding whether you should entertain moving some or all of your IT to the cloud, but rather, a detailed look under the hood to help IT professionals understand how cloud adoption has evolved and what trends will impact th...
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his session at @DevOpsSummit 19th Cloud Expo, Eric Robertson, General Manager at CollabNet, showed how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that enables everyone fro...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Application transformation and DevOps practices are two sides of the same coin. Enterprises that want to capture value faster, need to deliver value faster – time value of money principle. To do that enterprises need to build cloud-native apps as microservices by empowering teams to build, ship, and run in production. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Neil Gehani, senior product manager at HPE, discussed what every business should plan for how to structure their teams to delive...
Rapid innovation, changing business landscapes, and new IT demands force businesses to make changes quickly. In the eyes of many, containers are at the brink of becoming a pervasive technology in enterprise IT to accelerate application delivery. In this presentation, attendees learned about the: The transformation of IT to a DevOps, microservices, and container-based architecture What are containers and how DevOps practices can operate in a container-based environment A demonstration of how ...
As we enter the final week before the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in Santa Clara, CA, it's time for me to reflect on six big topics that will be important during the show. Hybrid Cloud This general-purpose term seems to provide a comfort zone for many enterprise IT managers. It sounds reassuring to be able to work with one of the major public-cloud providers like AWS or Microsoft Azure while still maintaining an on-site presence.
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Phil Hombledal, Solution Architect at CollabNet, discussed how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
Much of the value of DevOps comes from a (renewed) focus on measurement, sharing, and continuous feedback loops. In increasingly complex DevOps workflows and environments, and especially in larger, regulated, or more crystallized organizations, these core concepts become even more critical. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, showed how, by focusing on 'metrics that matter,' you can provide objective, transparent, and meaningful f...
Logs are continuous digital records of events generated by all components of your software stack – and they’re everywhere – your networks, servers, applications, containers and cloud infrastructure just to name a few. The data logs provide are like an X-ray for your IT infrastructure. Without logs, this lack of visibility creates operational challenges for managing modern applications that drive today’s digital businesses.
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor – all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...