Is Identity Management still relevant in 2019?

is identity relevant in 2019

The last three years have been a blur. Over the holiday period I’ve been reflecting on my professional experiences over the last few years whilst also considering the future of identity and access management from my perspective as an architect and consultant. Is Identity Management still relevant in 2019? More on that further below, but first a quick recap.

2016 & 2017 Recap

After changing employer and role at the end of 2015 I assimilated into an organisation with a much different culture and by mid 2016 started to embrace the company values of supporting the industry and community that supports us. This is quite a change from my previous 23 years of employment where experience, skills and knowledge was considered internal intellectual property and not to be shared/discussed on public forums.

Identity and Access Management was also a changing industry. Enterprise customers embracing cloud computing was driving requests for solutions relating to hybrid identity management. The incoming work relating to cloud identity enablement was over and above the traditional identity sync and messaging services that I’d been seeing for the previous 5+ years (with respect to Cloud). Enterprises were asking for solutions that weren’t out of the box solutions that could be achieved with just configuration (but then Identity never really has been).

Personal Commentary

In early 2017 I took out a web hosting plan and installed WordPress and started to cross-post the content I write for Kloud along with additional posts. Those posts along with numerous other community activities I undertook saw me rewarded with Microsoft MVP status for Enterprise Mobility (Identity and Access Management).

My posts on this blog are mostly a narrative on my professional activities along with my tangential exploration of new and emerging technical areas of interest. My posts cover many topics but with regularity (Identity & Access Management, Azure Serverless Services, Microsoft Identity Manager, SailPoint IdentityNow, Internet of Things, PowerShell and Containerization).

At the start of 2018 I made a conscious effort to write more, specifically my experiences learning new technologies/services primarily as a reference for myself but also with a greater desire to give back to the industry and community I’d been forced to be a passive participant of for too long.

2018 Summary and Reflections

In 2017 I wrote 55 posts (which was inline with my target of an average of 1 post a week), and in 2018 that increased to a crazy 72. But with it my blog saw an increase in traffic with visitors up 177% and views up 203% from 2017. I don’t write for any reasons other that those stated above. But is nice to have some data to show it has some relevance and is of benefit to others.

Visitors and Views 2017 vs 2018
Visitors and Views 2017 vs 2018

What I do find interesting is where the readers are coming from. 41% from the USA, just under 14% from Australia, 5% from the UK then followed by India, Germany, Netherlands …….

I find this interesting as there maybe some correlation between the content and the location of like-minded individuals. Leading a growing team of Identity Professionals working on projects that aren’t the traditional On Premise Identity Sync style of projects that we’ve been doing for the last 20 years comes with the increased difficulty of talent acquisition for those types of projects. It is rare to find Identity Professionals that have the traditional IDAM skills but also understand Cloud Services, SaaS and PaaS offerings and how to integrate with API’s.

 

Blog Audience Summary
Blog Audience Summary

My top 3 posts for 2018 where;

It isn’t surprising then that 2 of the top 3 posts are associated with integration of Identity between tenants in an IDentity as a Service (IDaaS) offering. It has become one of the common themes our customers are requesting solutions to, in order to solve their inter and intra company collaboration enablement problems. The other post ironically is when Cloud Services that are expected to always be on, go into a transient state.

What will 2019 bring? Is Identity Management still relevant?

Extrapolating from posts I’ve made in the last two years along with customer requests along with current and planned projects there are a couple of themes developing. Identity is more relevant than it ever was;

  1. In Australia we are seeing traditional enterprises moving their Human Capital Management (HCM) services to Cloud SaaS providers (think SAP Success Factors and Workday)
    • this requires a re-think on authoritative source integration for Identity Services
    • it is an opportune time to plan for re-thinking identity data models to drive higher capabilities driven by identity such as Role Based Provisioning and Role Based Access Control
  2. Hybrid Identity (On Premise <=> Cloud) needs to be solved by all Enterprises
    • We are seeing enterprises with traditionally lower levels of investment in IT Services finally having sweated their assets to the point they almost need to re-architect their entire estate
    • When an environment;
      • is still on physical infrastructure
      • is up to 4 major versions behind the current offerings (think Windows Server 2008/2008 R2, Microsoft Exchange 2010)
      • requires users to use legacy VPN style connections to access resources remotely
      • doesn’t support modern workplace working models and mobility isn’t even an option
        • then it requires new blood to sponsor and drive the re-organisation, along with fresh thinking to develop the Strategy and Roadmap with new patterns to accelerate the adoption to continually deliver improvements
          • and one of the key cornerstone drivers of these projects is identity
    • We are also seeing large enterprises that have embraced Cloud Services, but have approached them as tactical integrations into their existing environments. At scale though this often results in a disjoint series of silo’d identity repositories and a very confusing user experience from differing Login ID’s and Passwords.
      • We are assisting customers with planning for a holistic identity driven end-state and then re-architecting the integration of services to provide a consistent and predictable experience for Provisioning, Lifecycle Management, Separation as well as the end-user experience
  3. Historical On Premise Identity Management implementations need an uplift
    • Similar to the sweating your assets comment above we are often evaluating customers existing IDAM implementations based on heritage On Premise releases (such as Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager, Novell Identity Manager, Tivoli Identity Manager and Oracle Identity Manager).
    • Having designed and built numerous IDAM implementations on these products it is disheartening to still see implementations only doing what they were originally developed to do when implemented ~7+ years ago
      • When functionality has been enhanced it is often via a different solution in parallel with the foundation one, or even worse via manual operations performed to achieve the desired outcome
    • Many of the products listed in the first bullet point above have evolved, but so has the requirements of an enterprise organisation.
      • Do you rip and replace or uplift and extend? We are seeing requests for both

What will I be working on in 2019?

Hybrid Identity Management Solutions

My last two major Identity projects have seen me architect solutions that are a hybrid of traditional On Premise Identity Management products with Cloud PaaS and SaaS services along with IDaaS providers. As the PaaS and SaaS offerings mature and IDaaS services achieve highly functionality there will be more demand to augment existing IDAM implementation with them and in the case of IDaaS and traditional IDAM products, where does functionality X best reside. The upside to all of this is less bespoke design and development and more configuration and dissemination of IDAM functionality into micro-services.

Hackathon

In 2018 I entered my first Hackathon with my Voice Assistant for Microsoft Identity Manager. Hackathons were something I had been observing for a while but not something I ever thought I would be a part of. It is highly likely I will be part of another in 2019, naturally in my sphere of Identity Management.

Internet of Things

IoT is something I’ve messed with long before the term IoT became a three-letter acronym. In 2018 I even gave a talk on the Internet of YOUR Things at the Global Azure Bootcamp.

IoT integration with Cloud Services obviously also has an Identity component and one that I’m keen to keep on top of. From physical IoT Devices to Bots integrated with IDAM Implementations I foresee myself continuing to tinker and workout what it will mean from an IDAM perspective managing non heartbeat identities for corporate enterprises in the future.

In closing

Whilst this post started as a simple reflection on my last three years and a changing industry with a viewpoint on the future it seems to have got a lot more deep and meaningful in the middle. If you have made it this far, well done. You have the endless patience of an Identity Consultant.

Is Identity Management still relevant in 2019? Absolutely. What and how we define Identity Management is changing quickly, but it is more relevant than ever.

What is your analysis of the current state of Identity and Identity Management in 2019? Let me know on Twitter, LinkedIn or in the comments below.