One-Stop ShoppingSoon businesses realized that the bigger the cart, the more customers would put into it. This in turn led to large supermarket chains that expanded from selling food to providing practically all the shopping that customers might need—clothes, pharmacy, music, etc. The philosophy is that by providing many services in one store, shops can offer clients the convenience of obtaining their needs in one stop. This analogy is the same today. Business users in the past had to visit the Database Admin for DB access, the Network Admin for VPN or external access, and the Application Owner for every other individual application. For new employees, this could be weeks before actual work began. Not only that, but you also had some of your most skilled and highest paid IT professionals simply creating accounts and resetting passwords. What businesses need is a one-stop shop for employees where users can look up the system or access right of interest through an identity portal. Once found, a particular entitlement is placed into a virtual shopping cart where requests can be adjusted and permission attributes can be specified like end date, request comments, and additional fine-grained requirements. A "checkout" process follows (continuing the physical-store analogy) in which managerial approval is collected, if necessary. The employee often receives an e-mail confirmation once the transaction is complete. Obvious advantages is that the virtual shopping cart is available 24 hours a day, and many consumers have internet access that follows the same schedule wherever they are located. In contrast, routine identity management tasks, which would require travel to the office and would need to take place during normal business hours, can now be completed at the user’s convenience. Additionally, the end user and an IT admin do not need to get together to complete a transaction. An end user can change terms and conditions instantaneously. This means that Identity Self Service is not just a standard, run-of-the-mill business tool; it has become a competitive advantage.
Growing TrendsThere are three key areas where Identity Self Service will play a big role in the future of Identity Management.
- User focused Identity Portal for large user populations
- Self Service access to cloud based services
- Partner access and application integration
User-Focused Identity Portal for Large User PopulationsWith the use of roles, accounts, and access permissions, an identity portal helps to power the creation, modification, and termination of access rights throughout the entire user lifecycle. Whether for internal enterprise users or for trusted partners or suppliers who need access to in-house company resources, the identity portal enables the organization to grant permission to access information and applications and then to control access as the user’s role and responsibilities change. Users and partners receive self-service functions in areas such as password reset, system and role access request, and federated application access. The identity portal becomes a single place where all user lifecycle management can take place. Truly a one-stop shop. The result is a lower identity management cost, improved compliance with user access through a centralized portal, and faster access for your users.
User Access to Cloud-Based ServicesWithin the last few years, and with mounting speed, “the cloud” has stormed the technology world. Its consumption and intrinsic values have influenced an expansive range of businesses. Unlike traditional solutions, such as in-house software solutions, cloud computing can be defined by two key characteristics:
- Information becomes more readily available to your users
- Costs to maintain access to that data goes down
Business Partner AccessWhen users must access resources beyond their own organization, a highly scalable solution for enrollment is required in which
- External users initiate enrollment and set their passwords,
- The organization customizes challenge/response options, authentication and access methods, and
- The user can deprovision the account when it is no longer needed.
ConclusionIn the 1990s, businesses urgently re-organized to capture the advantages of new technology available to them. In the last decade, online usage has grown exponentially. Everyone uses it, experienced employees are accessible, the technology is established and recognized, and the number of prospective customers continues to increase globally. The speed of high-tech development has not slackened—faster, smarter, and cheaper. Organizations are transforming business by expanding their systems to large numbers of internal and external users, many of whom are mobile. It will necessitate each organization to determine their own requirements of ensuring effective identity management, because each organization has its own needs, goals, and set of users. One thing is for sure: for a business to survive in a faster, smarter, and cheaper world, they will have to adopt automated solutions that enable the user to solve their own problems in new and exciting ways.