Calling the cloud: Challenges of managing information
by Dean Wiech - Managing Director of Tools4ever - Thursday, 8 May 2014.
The cloud continues to be much discussed and the many benefits it offers organizations of all sizes. Rarely is it mentioned, though, that there are a number of complications that come with managing data there, especially in regard to end user accounts and access of applications.

Using cloud applications surely can impact the security, compliance and IT-related cost savings of an organization. In relation to identity and access management, when several cloud applications are implemented, provisioning, password management and the monitoring of access begins to become quite a challenge. Because of this, organizational leaders should seriously consider implementing an automated cloud identity management solution if they’re using or making a move.

Auto provisioning

Creating accounts in cloud applications can be time consuming for both the IT department and the end user. System administrators must manually create accounts for users, which often delays users having access for days and not being able to get their work done. With an automated cloud identity management solution, user accounts are automatically created, modified, enabled or disabled via a synchronization with the HR system. The helpdesk or manager handling the process can easily make changes in one place and automatically synchronize these changes to all cloud applications.

Security

When an organization begins to use several cloud applications, it often becomes difficult to determine that the correct people have the correct access to systems and applications. Users may have access to systems and applications that they shouldn’t, leaving data vulnerable to breach. With a role-based access control (RBAC) module, for example, system administrators can easily control access to the company’s cloud applications on the basis of an employee’s department or job title based on records from the human resource system. So doing, ensures that each employee has the correct access to systems, even in cloud applications.

Password issues

Passwords often become a problem when implementing numerous cloud applications. Since IT administrators need to manage passwords for countless users, who often have trouble remembering several sets of credentials, the responsibility falls on the IT department to deal with resetting these passwords when users forget them. A cloud SSO solution can be used so that end users only must remember one set of credentials for all of their cloud applications, which can be based on their existing Active Directory credentials. If for any reason a password needs to be reset, it can be changed in one place, Active Directory, and then be automatically synchronized with all cloud applications.

Audit

As more cloud applications are deployed in an organization, the need for reporting of whom is using what applications and systems become paramount. The complexity of managing this process is increased by the number of cloud applications deployed and the number of users accessing the systems. A centralized dashboard can be used in an automated identity management solution to easily see on overview of usage and logging in. This allows management to easily review the report for auditing purposes, as well as controlling license costs.

Overall, cloud IAM solutions offer benefits to end users, IT departments and even management. End users are able to receive their account access quickly and not have to wait to perform their jobs if locked out and IT has full control over the applications and authorizations without having to spend countless hours on account management.

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