The rapid migration of systems and data to the cloud which is expected to account for about $3.5 million per business spending in 2018, raises unique concerns regarding data security, identity management and access control. As more businesses of all sizes opt to invest in the tools offered by popular cloud platforms, it will be increasingly necessary for executives and their IT departments to develop the appropriate identity and access management (IAM) policies designed to address the emerging concerns.
Cloud platform providers are responding to the need for stronger security with integrated IAM solutions. Knowing what offerings are available and how to leverage the tools included in each platform provides a framework for smarter, stronger IAM policies made to address the growing number of potential vulnerabilities and new types of risk associated with connected devices and remote workers in modern businesses.
Cloud computing tools are most commonly offered in two ways: software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS). In a typical SaaS model, the customer pays a monthly or yearly fee to use an application or software platform managed entirely by a third-party provider. PaaS offers more flexibility by allowing customers to control which apps are deployed on a third-party platform.
Cloud Platform Providers
Top cloud platform providers give businesses flexible, customizable cloud environments in which to build networks of integrated and complementary applications designed to support more efficient workflows, improve collaboration and increase productivity. Each provider has its own suite of available applications and range of features to address the diverse requirements of today’s connected businesses.
A white paper published by Identity Management Institute for its members offers analysis of the 3 major cloud platforms Amazon, Microsoft, and Google.
The Role of Middleware
The job of middleware is to connect client requests made via a network to the data being requested. In cloud environments, these tools may be bundled as part of a PaaS offering or obtained through another provider. The link created by middleware serves to bridge the gap between the front end of an application, which the user sees and interacts with, and the back end, consisting of computers, servers and data storage.
For the purposes of IAM, middleware can be used to simplify authentication and user access across extensive suites of cloud-based applications. Third-party authentication options like Okta, Ping Identity and Symantec VIP are known as authentication-as-a-service (AaaS) and are part of the growing number of cloud-based services being established to support the many businesses migrating to the cloud.
Preserving data integrity requires IAM policies designed to clearly define user roles and privileges and control access to applications within cloud computing platforms. Businesses planning to invest in cloud platforms and move more computing infrastructure to the cloud must carefully assess the security controls available and seek PaaS solutions designed to integrate with, supplement and strengthen existing security frameworks.
As businesses move into the future and embrace updated technologies, flexibility in cloud environments will become more important, and security concerns will continue to evolve. Today’s top cloud platform providers offer scalable, customizable solutions with built-in IAM tools, and it’s up to IT specialists to identify the unique concerns of the businesses for which they work and choose the best solution to address workflow needs and security requirements.