It comes as no surprise that organizations large and small are considering adopting the cloud as part of their overall IT strategy. The variety of impressive benefits that the cloud boasts, including simplified management and increased business agility, combined with its potential for significant cost savings, makes it an attractive option for almost any organization.
It’s also understandable, however, that some may hesitate to transition to the cloud when they have already invested in their own on-premises infrastructure and identity program. What impact will it have on business continuity? Does migrating to the cloud increase your organizational risk to serve critical business processes? Will it require significant changes to the existing business processes you use to manage the lifecycle of user access? A successful migration is possible with identity governance, and the business value the cloud can bring can make pursuing the transition well worth your organization’s time and effort.
Identity governance is essential to maintain security and productivity as organizations transition to the cloud. This is not only critical for the migration itself, but afterwards identity governance helps companies establish centralized lifecycle management of access across all users, applications and data. Identity governance is about managing and controlling the identities that have access to sensitive data, no matter where it resides, and giving organizations the ability to answer three important security questions: who has access to what, who should have access, and how is that access being used?
When an organization decides to get out of the data center business and migrate their IT infrastructure to the cloud, sensitive data is moved. As this data migrates to the cloud, it’s essential that organizations are able to view, manage and secure it with confidence at all points – without completely overburdening the IT staff. With identity governance, organizations can establish controls from users and their applications, but also discover, classify and manage access to sensitive data.
While migrating part or all of your IT infrastructure to the cloud can seem like an intimidating and time-consuming endeavor, here are a few best practices that will help you in your journey:
Before diving in to the cloud, conduct a thorough evaluation of the alignment between your organization’s business and IT objectives. Each and every organization is unique, and it’s important to identify some of the key facts about yours before finalizing any transition plans. Ask yourself questions such as, what are your organization’s business needs and what is their relationship to your broader IT strategy? For example, is IT a very strategic part of your business or is it a utility to serve the needs of the business? What is your organization’s motivation for migrating to the cloud? What do you expect your organization’s future IT resource expenditure to look like? A successful migration to the cloud should fit into your organization’s overall strategy and drive its business initiatives, so doing a thorough internal analysis will help you align with the right identity management strategy for your needs.
Consider the flexibility that identity governance will allow. Transitioning from an on-premises data center to the cloud will most likely take longer than expected, and will require the willpower and time of an experienced IT team. In the process, it’s important to continue to serve the needs of your business successfully. Before making the transition to the cloud, ensure you have an identity governance solution that can manage a hybrid IT infrastructure. This should enable complete visibility into both on-premises and cloud applications holistically. This visibility will allow you and your organization to maintain proper levels of security as well as productivity at all times, ensuring that your business remains strong throughout the transition. And a successful identity governance program should provide enough flexibility to govern apps and sensitive data in phased milestones that are tailored to your business needs.
Consider your deployment options for identity governance itself as you transition, which include software-as-a-service (SaaS), public cloud or managed service providers (MSP). Part of your internal analysis should assess your existing IT infrastructure, the sophistication of your current business processes and the identity expertise/staffing to support it. These outputs will help you identify which identity governance delivery option makes the most sense for your organization. For example, if your organization is new to identity governance or does not have sophisticated business processes that are required to manage the lifecycle of user access, consider a SaaS deployment option that delivers quick time to value based on existing identity governance best practices embedded in the solution. In contrast, should your organization have an existing identity program that serves the sophisticated needs of large enterprises, deploying identity governance in a public cloud setting allows for the extensibility required in a solution while delivering the key business benefits of using a cloud infrastructure platform like AWS or Azure. And, lastly, if your organization does not have the internal expertise in-house, consider the value that a managed service could provide who will manage it all on your behalf.
The many benefits of the cloud are clear, but the steps involved in making the transition can seem too difficult to undertake – especially for organizations that may lack an extensive, experienced IT team. However, by prioritizing the implementation and management of an identity governance program throughout the organization, companies of every size and influence can experience the benefits of the cloud while having the peace of mind that who’s accessing what kinds of data is being constantly monitored, updated and enforced, allowing business operations to remain strong and productive at all times.