8 key considerations for choosing the right identity and access management solution

Aug 31, 2023

Key takeaways

With so many IAM solutions on the market, you should start by knowing exactly what problem you’re trying to solve. 

Things like usability, integration capability, and scalability are just as important as cost when comparing options. 

A managed services provider can help you identify the solutions that meet your current and future needs. 

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Identity and access management (IAM), also sometimes referred to as digital identity, plays a central role in securing your organization by providing the processes and technologies required to control and monitor who accesses your systems and data.

When executed effectively, IAM can significantly mitigate the risk of costly data breaches by ensuring that the right users have access to the right resources, at the right time and for legitimate reasons. With so many IAM point solutions on the market, sifting through your options can be difficult.

Eight things you should consider when evaluating your options.

1. Use Case Fit

The first thing to consider is the functionality and features you need your IAM solution to deliver to meet the use case fit for current and future requirements. Products can be grouped into three use cases:

  • Identity governance and administration products provide one place to go to know who has access to what, while also automating user life cycle events.
  • Access management products include things like user directories, profile management, and authentication to help provide visibility and scalability of access.
  • Privileged access management products help protect the most sensitive users and access your organization might have.

Some IAM solutions provide functionality and features across all three categories, while others provide best-in-class capabilities for a single function. The best choice for your organization depends on your present IAM maturity, organizational needs, and future strategy.

2. Integration capability

Your IAM solution must be able to integrate seamlessly with your existing systems, applications, databases, and IT infrastructure to be effective. When evaluating a potential product, make sure it is flexible enough to work with all the critical systems in your IT environment. Otherwise, you may need to factor in extra time and costs for building custom integrations.

3. Usability

Your IAM solutions need to be accessible and intuitive for end users. This will help encourage user adoption of the tool, reducing the risk of individuals finding workarounds to avoid dealing with the hassle of a clunky IAM solution. By seeking out products that let authorized users log in near-instantaneously, you can ensure that employees stay productive and registered customers are able to quickly access their accounts to make a purchase.

4. Compliance

Depending on your organization, you may need to choose specific IAM solutions to help you meet regulatory requirements such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). To meet these regulations and future requirements, prioritize tools that feature robust compliance management capabilities, such as detailed logging and reporting to establish your chain of data custody.

5. Scalability

The needs of your organization just a few years from now will look nothing like your needs today. When evaluating an IAM solution, ensure that it can scale with your organization as you add users, new business units, emerging technologies, and automated solutions that may require privileged access. Pay close attention to the solution’s ability to integrate into cloud environments, in addition to its ability to secure access to on-premises data sources.

6. Cost

IAM solutions can have complicated cost structures that factor in how many users you need to protect, the size of your organization, and the functionality and features you require, not to mention one-time costs for things like implementation and training. Make sure you get an apples-to-apples comparison of potential solutions to find one that provides a reasonable total cost of ownership and a high return on investment. 

7. Support and maintenance

The quality of the vendor's customer support and maintenance services is a crucial consideration. When there is a problem, each minute users can’t access your system can lead to costly downtime or unnecessary exposure to risk. You need a provider that offers reliable, responsive support to address any issues or queries that may arise.

8. Vendor reputation

Given the critical role that an IAM solution plays in protecting your operations, you need to make sure you work with a solution provider with a world-class reputation. Take the time to identify trustworthy providers with a track record of reliability and a strong commitment to security. Pay close attention to their customer support and maintenance services.

Understanding these eight factors will help you choose the IAM solution or solutions that make the most sense for your organization’s specific needs. And while this selection process can be difficult, you don’t have to do it alone.

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