Identity and Access Management - Blog

Identity and Access Management community: Discover and share best practices to control IAM for your real world.

  • The New Standard for Identity, Data and Access Governance

    If you read Chapter One of Identity and Access Management for the Real World, you learned of a proposed “maturity model” for IAM. Just to summarize, I likened your IAM journey to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs with the pinnacle being governance. 

    Until access, security, control, and management are taken care of, governance is a near impossibility. That’s why the governance chapter of IAM for the Real World follows the access management chapter. If you are struggling to manage access, you will REALLY struggle to achieve governance.

    So what is identity governance?

    There are all kinds of technical and jargon-laden definitions, but I like to describe it this way: Governance is making sure you do things right. So from an identity governance standpoint it means making sure that the right people, have the right access, to the right stuff, in the right way, with all the other right  people saying that it is OK that it’s happening that way.

    And then there’s what should be governed. There are three major categories where identity and access governance (IAG) come into play, and no project is complete if all three are not addressed.

    1. End user access to applications

    2. End user access to data

    3. Administrator access to privileged accounts

    But it gets hard when you start to consider what all of those rights actually mean in your real world. And it gets really hard when you have to define right over and over again, for the same people but on different systems or for different access scenarios. All of a sudden right might not be quite so right. And when governance is an afterthought – tacked on after the fact – it becomes just another area of additional complexity, raising costs, and potential failure. On the other hand if your access management tasks are performed with a governance mindset, and with governance-enabled tools, the journey up the pyramid is simple and painless. Watch this video on how line-of-business personnel can actually be at the front lines of governance through attestation/recertification.

    Put in simple terms, if provisioning is done without an eye towards governance or governance is imposed on an existing and flawed provisioning implementation, you’re in for a bumpy ride. And if your access governance solution can’t cover data and/or privileged accounts, that’s just one more layer of technology and one more solution that must be deployed, supported, and paid for.

    So governance for the real world considers all the rights that are in play across all access types, all user populations, and all systems. And it is tightly coupled with the foundation for everything – provisioning. Watch this video to learn more about provisioning and governance. Here’s a short video on the Dell One Identity approach to identity governance

    To learn more about this real-world approach to governance, download and read Identity and Access Management for the Real World: Identity Governance.


  • Dell One Identity Manager is SC Award Finalist for Best Identity Management Solution

    I am pleased to announce Dell One Identity Manager was recognized as a 2015 SC Awards Finalist for Best Identity Management Solution

    Products in this category address the identity management lifecycle in an enterprise environment, including:

    • password management
    • user provisioning
    • enterprise-access management

     Read the full article


  • 4 Tips for Making Access Management Work for Your World

    In my last blog about the "Identity and Access Management for the Real World: The Fundamentals", I gave some pointers on front-loading your IAM project for success. Today I’d like to delve into some specifics of what you may be trying to accomplish with your IAM project, as well as some common barriers to tactical success. Finally, I'll leave you with some more ideas to help you succeed where so many others may have failed.

    Today we’ll talk about access management, which is covered in Chapter 2 of the ebook series: Identity and Access Management for the Real World: Access Management.

    The whole purpose of identity and access management is to grant people the access they need to do their jobs, but to do it in such a way that security and compliance are maintained. It’s a lot easier said than done. Just ask yourself a few questions:

    • How long does it take for a new employee to be fully provisioned across all the systems necessary for them to do their job?
    • How many separate workflows have to be followed? How many forms have to be filled out? How many separate people in IT need to get involved?
    • How long does it take to reverse those processes when someone leaves the organization? And how many workflows, forms, and IT people must be involved to make that happen?
    • How many passwords does your typical user have?
    • How much time and money is spent simply helping users access basic stuff (such as password resets, ad-hoc access requests, etc.)?
    • How does a new application (maybe an SaaS application), a new service, a new access scenario (such as BYOD), or a new user population (perhaps a partner) impact operations?
    • When these things pop -up, do you create new workflows, additional forms, and dump even more menial tasks on already overtaxed IT staff?

    If the answer to any of these is not “one” or “it’s easy and works seamlessly with what I already have in place"; then yours is like most IT organization. It's not a question of whether a "real world" approach to IAM can help; the issue is “where do I start?”

    Here are 4 tips to help you get started:

    1. Reduce the number of passwords - This can be done through consolidation of directories and identities and through single sign-on (SSO) technologies.  Don't settle for a solution that addresses one area while leaving others untouched. The ideal SSO approach will provide for each of your diverse target systems. Here’s a short video that talks about this real-world approach to single sign-on.

    2. Automate as much as possible - This will relieve IT of the time-consuming and error-prone burden of manually managing identities and access across diverse systems. Most IAM solutions are all about automation, but unless you implement with an eye on unification and consolidation, you  could end up automating the same thing on different systems, with different tools.

    3. Get the biggest bang for your buck - If you can get Active Directory right, pulling as much into AD as possible, you will free up lots of time and money to focus on other areas. Here’s a video about using AD as a starting point. Here’s an active directory management video that shows some of the ways you can use AD-specific tools to open up bandwidth for larger IAM initiatives.

    4. Keep your eye on the prize - Never forget the goal of your IAM project: you need to ensure that everyone in your organization can get to the things they need to do their jobs, and that none of your important stuff falls into the wrong hands. Stated another way, you need governance. Don’t miss the forest for the trees by getting bogged down in the tactical problem of the day. Keep your eye on the strategic purpose that drives the whole thing.

    For a more in-depth discussion of access management and the real-world approach that I’ve been talking about, download Identity and Access Management for the Real World: Access Management. And keep your eye on this space for additional insight into making your IAM project perfect for your real world.


  • What's Securing your Big Data Environment?

    Anyone that is associated with tech these days has heard the term “Big Data.”  This term can refer to many different technologies, methods, and concepts.  One technology that Big Data refers to is NoSQL.  NoSQL is a database technology that provides a radically different method of storing and retrieving data than a traditional rational database like Oracle’s DBMS.  This gives NoSQL performance advantages when used in certain datasets.  The most popular NoSQL database is MongoDB.  MongoDB is used by over 2,000 organizations, including a 1/3 of the Fortune 100, to solve their company’s information problems.

    When a new technology emerges businesses will first evaluate the technology to verify its value.  Once that is done the business looks to add security controls.  According to Gartner’s 2013 Big Data Survey, a full 27% of respondents put security as a challenge. With the enterprise adoption of MongoDB, business are looking to incorporate the same security controls they are accustomed to with their traditional DBMS.

    Today we are happy to announce a technology integration with our friends at MongoDB.  With the assistance of Alex Komyagin at MongoDB and our own Kyle Robinson we provide a step by step guide to integrate Authentication Services with MongoDB.  Previous to this integration MongoDB customers did basic LDAP type integrations that did not leverage the power and flexibility of Active Directory.  Using Authentication Services, customers can take advantage of all the benefits Active Directory offers as a directory service.  This integration allows our customers to enjoy two industry leading technologies, MongoDB and Authentication Services, all while reusing a proven security infrastructure.

    More information can be found on MongoDB's site or the Dell Software Knowledge Base

  • The Next Frontier of Identity and Access Management: Business Agility

    For years, identity and access management (IAM) has been seen as the project of denial, restriction, limitation and sometimes failure. The processes and technologies required to enhance security seemed also destined to stifle collaboration and interfere with revenue-generating …blah blah blah. Let me boil it down for you.

    Fundamentally, you’re probably in one of several camps

    1)      You have lived through or are living through an IAM project gone wrong

    2)      You’re new to IAM and / or

    3)      You’re trying to secure funding for your security / IAM project

    The high-quality, completely-over-produced graphic to the right depicts your challenges.

    Dell has a plethora of content to help people in the upper right. Basically, that answer is “what’s your pain?” Is it two factor authentication? Single sign-on? Privileged accounts? We have you covered. Our latest white paper deals with the upper left quadrant.

    Learn how you can position your security / IAM project as a business enablement tool. Looking at the project through the lens of the business owner, you’re likely to find additional sources of funding for those IT organizations that might be wary of investing further in IAM where they may have already “touched the hot stove several times.”

    If this sounds like you, I recommend you take a read. It’s quick and interesting, even if I have to say that because I wrote it. Also, if you do read it, I’d appreciate your feedback. Thanks!



  • Three Steps to Simplify Your Identity and Access Management

    I spend way too much of my time thinking about identity and access management (IAM). I guess it’s what pays the bills, so that’s a good thing. I get paid to write about, talk about, and evangelize the Dell way of doing IAM.

    I’ve written a little book called Identity and Access Management for the Real World. Chapter One: The Fundamentals delves into the basics of IAM, the challenges we all face, and some recommendations to overcome those challenges.

    Unlike many of you, if I mess something up I just look like a fool … no one really gets hurt, my employer doesn’t suffer significant damage, and there’s no headlines warning everyone of the dangers of doing business with me or my employer.

    Identity and access management challenges can be boiled down to a few concepts:

    • People need access to stuff to do their jobs and someone has to make sure that they can get to what they need when they need it.
    • The business needs to make sure that those people only get to the stuff they should get to and not too much.
    • There’s always someone watching to make sure that you do those things according to some rules, that you had no hand in defining.
    • The people at risk if things go wrong are often woefully lacking in the ability to control their own fates (i.e. they must rely on people that know how to do stuff but not why to do it to actually set up and enforce the rules that must be followed).

    These tenets aren’t universal; there are organizations that have everything nailed down and have all the right people doing the right things and are able to prove it. But there are many more (possibly you and your organization) that are struggling with one or more of these factors. That’s just the way it is. Here’s a short Identity and Access Management video that discusses one company’s struggle with, and solution to this complexity problem. 

    I think the reason we have these problems is that we’re spending so much time putting out fires that we haven’t been able to purge the dead undergrowth to prevent the next fire from spreading out of control. After all, when you find a weakness or experience a breach, you must immediately find a solution to that problem. And the fastest solution may not be one that has anything to do with the preventing the next fire that will inevitably ignite. We end up with a bunch of disjointed access methods, a jumble of ways authorization is defined and enforced, and lots of productivity-sapping hoops that end users and IT have to jump through just to do their jobs – all in the name of better security. The victim is business agility (and isn’t that what we’re all in business for in the first place?)

    Here are three things you can do to minimize the disjointed and ad hoc approach to IAM that is so prevalent:

    1. Reduce complexity where ever possible. Take advantage of existing tools and infrastructure whenever possible to reduce the need for new identities, new provisioning workflows, and new IT tasks to simply grant users access. A great example of this is the AD bridge – simply extending Active Directory authentication and authorization to Unix/Linux systems has proven to dramatically reduce the workload and risk of access to those systems.

    2. Put the business in charge. We all love our IT departments but they should not be the ones making decisions on who should access what and under what circumstances. But they are precisely the ones that most often control these things simply because they know how to manage the systems and the accounts. Do whatever you can to return that control to the ones that are accountable for the data stored and used on those systems.

    3. Keep your eye on the prize. The ultimate goal of everything is to fulfill your organizational objectives – whether that’s making money, serving constituents, educating people, or changing the world. This concept of agility is difficult when all your efforts are focused on simply getting things done. From an IAM standpoint this means lots of wasted time and effort on menial tasks like password resets, multiple logins, redundant roles, and manual provisioning processes. All of those things are important, but following the first two recommendations will inevitably result in a more efficient (and more governable) IAM approach that becomes a business enabler not productivity black hole.

    The little book I've written goes into more detail on this future-proof approach to IAM. Subsequent chapters discuss the specifics of governance, access management, privileged account management, mobility, and even IAM as a service. I’ll be writing about those topics in the coming weeks.


  • Making Security a Business Enabler Not a Barrier

    January 27, 2015 | 1:00 p.m. Eastern / 10:00 a.m. Pacific 

    For years, identity and access management (IAM) has been seen as the project of denial, restriction, limitation and sometimes failure. The processes and technologies required to enhance security seemed also destined to stifle collaboration and interfere with revenue-generating work. In fact, at times, the processes forced employees, partners and customers to spend precious time searching for ways to circumvent the IAM infrastructure in order to do their jobs. 

    The next generation of IAM solutions is changing this perception. Attend this live event with Carol Fawcett, Executive Director & Chief Information Officer at Dell Software, to learn how these new modular and integrated IAM solutions better enable business. 

    Attendees will learn how the latest IAM solutions:

    • Enable IT to offload those pesky decisions of who needs access to what and put them in the hands of business owners who can better address them 
    • Empower auditors to get what they need without interrupting the business 
    • Enable individual workers to get swift and controlled access to the things they need to be productive and do their jobs 
    • Help IT professionals recast the benefits of their IAM projects' beyond security and add business value through increased operational agility

    Register today!

    About the presenter: 
    Carol Fawcett is Executive Director, Mergers & Acquisitions and Chief Information Officer for Dell Software Group at Dell. She is responsible for leading and driving Dell Software’s overall strategic information technology vision, enabling the company to align, leverage and capitalize on the biggest trends in security, mobile, analytics and cloud. Carol has more than three decades of experience serving in IT leadership roles. Prior to joining the Dell Software team Carol held positions at Quest Software, Western Digital, Coldwell Banker and Pacific Mutual.

  • KuppingerCole names Dell One Identity Manager "Overall Leader" in Leadership Compass

    Access Governance remains one of the fastest growing market segments in the broader IAM/IAG (Identity and Access Management/Governance) market. Over the past few years, this segment has evolved significantly. Access Intelligence, providing  advanced analytical capabilities for identifying access risks and analyzing the current status of entitlements is one of these additions, not to mention improved capabilities in managing access risks and user activity monitoring.

    We were actually named Leader in all 4 categories by KuppingerCole in the 2014 Access Governance Leadership Compass report 

    • Overall Leader
    • Product Leader
    • Market Leader
    • Innovation Leader

    "Dell Software has established itself as a leading vendor in the IAM/IAG market place with the Dell One Identity offerings. Dell One Identity Manager and the additional Data Governance edition deliver not only strong Identity Provisioning capabilities but also excel in Access Governance and Data Governance."
    —Excerpt from KuppingerCole Leadership Compass: Access Governance 2014

    This Leadership Compass provides an overview and analysis of the Access Governance market segment, and the solutions available.

  • IT services company secures remote vendor access to privileged accounts while reducing provisioning time by 75 percent.

    GE.SI.ass an Italian IT Services company needed to outsource some of its support activities for their customers’ business intelligence solutions to a partner. Outsourcing support activities would require GE.SI.ass to give the partner access to some of their privileged accounts. Given the current threat landscape as well as the need to meet the compliance and auditing demands of their customers, GE.SI.ass knew that they needed a solution to help them issue privileged access to the partner in a secure manner with full auditing capabilities. GE.SI.ass chose Dell’s Privileged Password Manager and Privileged Session Manager to do just that. With Dell’s privileged management solutions the partner is granted access to systems based on predefined policies and approval workflows without ever knowing the passwords to the privileged accounts. In addition all actions they perform on the system are recorded for auditing and compliance. GE.SI.ass also reduced the time it took them to bring new systems under management by 75 percent using Dell privileged management solutions. Read the full case study here.

  • Cloud Access Manager and Microsoft Office 365: 5 Things to Know

    Organizations considering Office 365, particularly those that already run Active Directory in-house and leverage it to provide single-sign-on to Microsoft applications, quickly learn that moving to Office 365 means extra identity management work. Specifically, in order to use Office 365 a user (a) must have an account in the organization's Office 365 tenant, and that account (b) is going to have its own user name and password to manage (or forget, or write down, etc.).

    Microsoft provides APIs and tools to lessen this additional identity management burden. Their Dirsync and ADFS technologies, respectively, facilitate synchronization of on-premise Active Directory accounts to the cloud, and single sign-on (SSO) from an on-premise AD to the cloud using identity federation technology. With federated SSO in place, an organization's users don't need to type a user name or password to access the Office 365 applications form within their corporate networks, and organizations con control access to Office 365 through their local AD deployments.

    To Microsoft's credit, they have listened to their customers who have wanted to leverage existing investments in federated SSO solutions (which often have more capability than ADFS) by creating the Works with Office 365 - Identity certification program. Dell One Identity Cloud Access Manager is a participant in the program, which tests interoperability between third-party solutions and Office 365, and creates communications channels for joint support troubleshooting and resolution.

    During the certification process, I learned a lot about Office 365, and how Cloud Access Manager's Office 365 support compares to alternatives. Here is a short list of considerations to keep in mind when looking at Office 365 single sign-on solutions...

    1. Support for *all* application types
      Office 365 can be accessed through a web browser (SharePoint Online, the Office web applications, Exchange Web Access), through desktop clients (Word/Excel, Outlook, Lync desktop clients), or through mobile clients (native email clients on mobile devices, Microsoft native mobile apps). Each of the clients use a different method of accessing Office 365. Cloud Access Manager supports Office 365 access through all of these application types.

    2. Integrated Windows Authentication (IWA) support
      Federated SSO *can* make it so users never have to type a user name or password to access Office 365 using web or desktop clients (except for Outlook, which must cache credentials). But desktop client IWA support requires that the federation solution support a specific federation endpoint for scenarios where a user has an existing Kerberos session, as might be the case when logged into a corporate network. Cloud Access Manager supports this "windowstransport" endpoint.

    3. Remote access scenarios
      When users are not on the corporate network (e.g. accessing email using a mobile device over wifi), how do they access the federation server to get the security tokens which enable Office 365 access? A federation should be deployed so that it can be accessed from the internet, through a DMZ-based proxy that protects the private keys being used to sign the security tokens. Cloud Access Manager comes with an embedded reverse proxy that enables secure access to the federation server, as well as internally-hosted applications, from anywhere.

    4. Multiple forest support
      Lots of organizations have users in multiple forests. It can be difficult to use one Office 365 tenant to service customers in multiple forests using ADFS, since ADFS is built to connect only to the AD forest in which it is installed. Cloud Access Manager can be deployed in various configurations to support multiforest deployments, including ones that share a single Cloud Access Manager instance and/or can enable IWA for users in all forests.

    5. Account provisioning
      Microsoft does not operate an equivalent to the Works for Office 365 - Identity certification program for third party solutions that can execute the Office 365 directory synchronization functions Dirsync (and Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager, and more recently Azure Active Directory Sync) can. But the Azure AD Graph API makes possible programmatic creation of Office 365 identities - Cloud Access Manager does it! In some cases we recommend using Microsoft technology, and make it easy to turn on/off the native provisioning logic.

    Office 365 is just one of the growing number of application supporting identity federation technology to extend authentication out form the enterprise to the cloud. If your organization is struggling with password management issues after employing SaaS applications, federation solutions like Cloud Access Manager can help address those issues.