Check calendars with a smartphone, save photos online, stream music and films – private consumers have long used the cloud services of various providers simultaneously. Each service, of course, requires its own login, much to the chagrin of users. The number of passwords everyone has to remember is growing constantly. Providers know this, which is why some already allow logging in with preexisting account data. Spotify is a good example: Instead of having to register anew, users can also opt log in with their Facebook accounts. Experts call this approach single sign-on (SSO).
And corporate users? The topic has also become relevant to the business world. According to the survey “State of the Cloud Report 2017” from Crisp Research, 85 percent of those companies responding have already developed a multi-cloud strategy and are prepared to use the cloud services of several providers simultaneously in the future. “Multi-cloud computing isn’t some vision for the future, but rather already reality,” says Kevin Gerrand, CTO for Cloud Services at T-Systems in an Interview. “In my opinion, this will be a central challenge in the coming years.”
IAM makes onboarding new employees easier
Why is this? Companies have the same problem as private consumers: They’re drowning in passwords. The more cloud services with their own logins that employees have to use, the more complicated the so-called Identity & Access Management (IAM) process becomes. For example, cloud services already place an important role for the human resources department while onboarding new employees. Depending on the position, responsibilities and company unit, each login needs to have the appropriate level of authorization.
Just like for private users, single sign-on services make the whole process much easier – for both employees and a company’s HR and IT departments. More and more firms are discovering the advantages of professional IAM. According to a study from the IT consultancy TimeToAct, only 38 percent of companies in Germany, Austria and Switzerland currently use software supported IAM and another 31 percent are planning to implement it.
Set up cloud access with just a few clicks
“Cloud integration in the USA has been part of a successful business model for the better part of a decade. Here in Europe, such hybrid IT and cloud solutions have been increasing rapidly since the beginning of the year,” says Thorsten Meyer, Product Manager for Deutsche Telekom working on the firm’s IAM service OneLogin for the Open Telekom Cloud. “To use multi-cloud environments successfully, we advise clients how they migrate to hybrid IT and cloud with reduced costs. An important part of these solutions is our IAM services.”
Services like OneLogin allow companies to set up access to different IT systems centrally with just a few clicks – no matter if it’s a complete working environment for new employees or simply temporary access with limited authorization for customers and partners. To do this, the system uses appropriate standard profiles that IT managers can deploy as needed. “This allows companies to accelerate the onboarding of new employees considerably,” says Meyer.
5 tips: How companies can spot good IAM services
But there are several Identity & Access Management services with single sign-on functionality on the market. What do companies need to keep in mind when selecting a provider?
- Interfaces: Anyone wanting to manage access within a complex multi-cloud environment with an IAM service needs a provider offering compatibility with as many solutions as possible. Decisive in determining this is the number of interfaces – so-called connectors provided by an IAM service. For example, OneLogin currently has connectors for more than 5,000 different cloud services – such as CRM platforms like Salesforce, productivity applications including Microsoft Office 365 and social media networks like LinkedIn and Facebook.
- Data security and data privacy: Since May 25, 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) puts considerably stricter restrictions on handling personal data into effect throughout the European Union. “Companies therefore are rightly making legal and compliance for data processing a big priority,” says Thorsten Meyer. “So we offer OneLogin directly from the Open Telekom Cloud and its German data centers.”
- Scalability: IAM services can also be operated on-premises from the company’s own computers. However, from the cloud there is more flexibility, as the solution can then perfectly match business developments at all times. Companies can spontaneously set up new environments for employees, partners or customers and shut them down again according to need.
- Two-factor authentication: Employees benefit from extra convenience, because they no longer need a new password for every service thanks to IAM. Of course, there’s a danger that access to the IAM service is a skeleton key for everything. Fortunately, two-factor authentication can boost security here. Private users know this principle from their online banking: Besides requiring a PIN, a bank also asks for a TAN when a customer wants to make a transfer. This number is either generated by a separate device or sent as an SMS to a phone. Good IAM services such as OneLogin from the Open Telekom Cloud also offer two-factor authentication for maximum security.
- Plausibility check: Quality IAM services also carry out security tests automatically in the background, so-called plausibility checks. Systems like OneLogin will alert users, for example, when someone attempts to access an account from the United States when the actual authorized user is already logged in from an office in Germany. This ensures that your account and the systems it controls are safe from unauthorized access.
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