Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Flint Brenton, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Sujoy Sen, AppDynamics 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
As the software delivery industry continues to evolve and mature, the challenge of managing the growing list of the tools and processes becomes more daunting every day. Today, Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) platforms are proving most valuable by providing the governance, management and coordination for every stage of development, deployment and release. Recently, I spoke with Madison Moore at SD Times about the changing market and where ALM is headed.
Many private cloud projects were built to deliver self-service access to development and test resources. While those clouds delivered faster access to resources, they lacked visibility, control and security needed for production deployments. In their session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steve Anderson, Product Manager at BMC Software, and Rick Lefort, Principal Technical Marketing Consultant at BMC Software, will discuss how a cloud designed for production operations not only helps accelerate developer...
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, will show how, by focusing on 'metrics that matter,' you can provide objective, transparent, and meaningfu...
Small teams are more effective. The general agreement is that anything from 5 to 12 is the 'right' small. But of course small teams will also have 'small' throughput - relatively speaking. So if your demand is X and the throughput of a small team is X/10, you probably need 10 teams to meet that demand. But more teams also mean more effort to coordinate and align their efforts in the same direction. So, the challenge is how to harness the power of small teams and yet orchestrate multiples of them...
As enterprises around the world struggle with their digital transformation efforts, many are finding that innovative digital teams are moving much faster than their hidebound IT organizations. Rather than struggling to convince traditional IT to get with the digital program, executives are taking advice from IT research firm Gartner, and encouraging existing IT to continue in their desultory ways. However, many CIOs are realizing the dangers of following Gartner’s advice. The central challenge ...
The goal of any tech business worth its salt is to provide the best product or service to its clients in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. This is just as true in the development of software products as it is in other product design services. Microservices, an app architecture style that leans mostly on independent, self-contained programs, are quickly becoming the new norm, so to speak. With this change comes a declining reliance on older SOAs like COBRA, a push toward more s...
In a crowded world of popular computer languages, platforms and ecosystems, Node.js is one of the hottest. According to w3techs.com, Node.js usage has gone up 241 percent in the last year alone. Retailers have taken notice and are implementing it on many levels. I am going to share the basics of Node.js, and discuss why retailers are using it to reduce page load times and improve server efficiency. I’ll talk about similar developments such as Docker and microservices, and look at several compani...
In the world of DevOps there are ‘known good practices’ – aka ‘patterns’ – and ‘known bad practices’ – aka ‘anti-patterns.' Many of these patterns and anti-patterns have been developed from real world experience, especially by the early adopters of DevOps theory; but many are more feasible in theory than in practice, especially for more recent entrants to the DevOps scene. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Chair Andi Mann, panelists will dis...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel at Sapphire Ventures Next-Gen Tech Stack Forum in San Francisco. Obviously, I was excited to join the discussion, but as a participant the event crystallized not only where the larger software development market is relative to microservices, container technologies (like Docker), continuous integration and deployment; but also provided insight into where DevOps is heading in the coming years.
Wow, if you ever wanted to learn about Rugged DevOps (some call it DevSecOps), sit down for a spell with Shannon Lietz, Ian Allison and Scott Kennedy from Intuit. We discussed a number of important topics including internal war games, culture hacking, gamification of Rugged DevOps and starting as a small team. There are 100 gold nuggets in this conversation for novices and experts alike.
The notion of customer journeys, of course, are central to the digital marketer’s playbook. Clearly, enterprises should focus their digital efforts on such journeys, as they represent customer interactions over time. But making customer journeys the centerpiece of the enterprise architecture, however, leaves more questions than answers. The challenge arises when EAs consider the context of the customer journey in the overall architecture as well as the architectural elements that make up each...
Admittedly, two years ago I was a bulk contributor to the DevOps noise with conversations rooted in the movement around culture, principles, and goals. And while all of these elements of DevOps environments are important, I’ve found that the biggest challenge now is a lack of understanding as to why DevOps is beneficial. It’s getting the wheels going, or just taking the next step. The best way to start on the road to change is to take a look at the companies that have already made great headway ...
In 2006, Martin Fowler posted his now famous essay on Continuous Integration. Looking back, what seemed revolutionary, radical or just plain crazy is now common, pedestrian and "just what you do." I love it. Back then, building and releasing software was a real pain. Integration was something you did at the end, after code complete, and we didn't know how long it would take. Some people may recall how we, as an industry, spent a massive amount of time integrating code from one team with another...
From the conception of Docker containers to the unfolding microservices revolution we see today, here is a brief history of what I like to call 'containerology'. In 2013, we were solidly in the monolithic application era. I had noticed that a growing amount of effort was going into deploying and configuring applications. As applications had grown in complexity and interdependency over the years, the effort to install and configure them was becoming significant. But the road did not end with a ...
I have an article in the recently released “DZone Guide to Building and Deploying Applications on the Cloud” entitled “Fullstack Engineering in the Age of Hybrid Cloud”. In this article I discuss the need and skills of a Fullstack Engineer with relation to troubleshooting and repairing complex, distributed hybrid cloud applications. My recent experiences with troubleshooting issues with my Docker WordPress container only reinforce the details I wrote about in this piece. Without my comprehensive...
Much of the discussion around cloud DevOps focuses on the speed with which companies need to get new code into production. This focus is important – because in an increasingly digital marketplace, new code enables new value propositions. New code is also often essential for maintaining competitive parity with market innovators. But new code doesn’t just have to deliver the functionality the business requires. It also has to behave well because the behavior of code in the cloud affects performan...
Struggling to keep up with increasing application demand? Learn how Platform as a Service (PaaS) can streamline application development processes and make resource management easy.
If there is anything we have learned by now, is that every business paves their own unique path for releasing software- every pipeline, implementation and practices are a bit different, and DevOps comes in all shapes and sizes. Software delivery practices are often comprised of set of several complementing (or even competing) methodologies – such as leveraging Agile, DevOps and even a mix of ITIL, to create the combination that’s most suitable for your organization and that maximize your busines...
Digital means customer preferences and behavior are driving enterprise technology decisions to be sure, but let’s not forget our employees. After all, when we say customer, we mean customer writ large, including partners, supply chain participants, and yes, those salaried denizens whose daily labor forms the cornerstone of the enterprise. While your customers bask in the warm rays of your digital efforts, are your employees toiling away in the dark recesses of your enterprise, pecking data into...