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Identity and access management is very beneficial to any business organization. This is an article on The Cloud Computing: Identity and Access Management (IAM). In the discussion that will follow, the focus will be on the development and evolvement of IAM in cloud computing and the technologies that have been in the offing previously. The first part of the discussion will cover the history of IAM in the previous technologies such as mainframes, Client- server and cloud. The second part of the discussion will cover the current practices and technologies in IAM. The third and the final part of this article will focus on future suggestions in IAM in cloud and how it should be improved.
Identity access management (IAM) is a system that is used in to process the details used in a system to identify and allow or reject access to information in the system. The main objective of IAM is to offer permission to access resources of an organization. The main reason why organizations use IAM is to ensure a thorough search and authenticate whoever is attempting to access critical details that belong to an organization. In a nut shell, it is a suitable way of ensuring information is secure. Whenever an organization invests in IAM, there are a number of benefits that are reaped from such a system in terms of security and finances.
Over a considerable period of time, IAM has developed and its needs have undergone transition. There has risen need for organizations to protect valuable assets by putting a restriction of accessing them. Currently, cooperate reasoning has emerged. Companies are looking at opportunities and advantages that come along with sharing of data and assets across the borders in an effective and secure manner. In the discussion that will follow, cloud computing IAM will be covered in details right from its history to its future. Although business organizations have identified many ways of ensuring their information is secure, IAM has proved to be just one of the effective ways of securing business information.
History of Cloud IAM
Cloud computing technology has passed through a number of stages which involves application service provision (ASP), and grid and utility computing among others. However, the idea of computing through network started in the 60s. In 1969, J.C.R. Licklider developed ARPNET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). He was simply trying to ensure that people access information anywhere and any time. Since that time, cloud computing has undergone transition and web 2.0 is the latest evolution. Cloud computing is made possible through the use of client server. A client server makes it possible for two programs in a computer to relate to each other by requesting from the client and the request is transferred to the server for completion. Client server is very useful when network is being used (Richard Chow et al., 2009). The client server can be used in cloud computing to connect programs in an organization.
Cloud computing cannot operate without the mainframes. The CA mainframe is very useful in ensuring that there is enough security that minimizes chances of accessing information. The mainframe also ensures that compliance is made easier and productivity is improved. The idea of cloud computing started in1990s following the need to boost security in the information systems in telecommunication. The idea has however been used in many business organizations since then. In 1999, cloud computing realized a milestone when salesforce.com arrived and this made it possible for people to deliver information over the internet. In 2002, Amazon Web Services emerged and they improved computation, human intelligence, and storage. A system that enables organizations to give computers on rent was launched in 2006, Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). In 2009, Web 2.0 emerged and Google alongside other services started. Experts are reading from the same script that cloud computing will continue growing with time (Mohamed, 2009).
Current Cloud Computing
The current cloud computing does not meet the expected demands. It is offering a static set of configurations for assessing data while today's organizations are demanding a dynamic approach. Currently, the biggest challenge in cloud computing is security. Cloud computing is capable of providing opportunities for innovating in providing security options that aims at improving the security of some companies in the long run. At the moment, large and small companies are benefiting from cloud computing. Currently, cloud computing has a number of areas that requires improvement in order for the organizations to benefit. One area that needs improvement is employee's specialization. Cloud computing is offering all the employees an opportunity to specialize in other areas they have interest apart from security and privacy. There has been witnessed a situation where security personnel are leaving other responsibilities to specialize on matters regarding security. If specialization is maximized, there is a chance for employees to gain experience, engage in remedial classes, and make improvements in security.
Currently, cloud computing structure is more universal compared to the traditional computing. The universality has enabled the platform to remain hardened thus enabling quick automation in security activities such as testing of vulnerability, and control of configurations among others. Assurance of information and response to security activities also benefits from universality just as activities for system management. A good number of cloud providers have the required standards that enable them to operate. The current systems of cloud computing gives room for greater availability and in the event that a disaster occurs, the system can recover quickly even from fatal accidents. In case unexpected event occurs, there is an opportunity to record information quickly with little effect on production. However, in case the distribution denial is not successful, any attack can lead to serious financial destruction of an organization.
At the moment, the policies that governs recovery and back up are superior than most of them that are found in many organizations. Any information that happens to be kept in a cloud can be readily available, reliable and the restoration of the same is very quick as compared to the traditional system (David, 2009). In many situations, cloud computing services are serving as means of offsetting back up storage of any organization as compared to the traditional storage. However, at the moment, the performance of network and the internet compared to the amount of information stored is a big challenge to restoration. The existing system is not a big risk to the organization and most organizations have made arrangements to support the accessing of data in an organization from mobile gadgets to enable simple workflow of management issues and other operations.
The current cloud computing has a number of limitations compared to the traditional system. The system is very complex with things such as monitors that are combined with virtual machines, storage of the data, back up middleware, and other components that constitutes management back plane. The fact that cloud services are conveyed through the internet is a clear indication that interfaces that are used in administrative matters are exposed to many users. The current system uses a remote to gain access to organization's resources as opposed to the traditional one where access would be restricted. The system of computing that is in many organizations can give room for mismanagement of assets that belong to an organization.
Future Trends in Cloud Computing
With the increasing number of customers realizing the need to have cloud computing identity and access management as an integral part of their security, there is need to develop a simplified system. The future looks promising as a good number of users move to acquire identity management due to the rising need of complying with rules such as PCI, HIPAA and SOX. The need to portray accountability in matters regarding accessing of data and management has risen. In the same breadth, the IT experts are interested in giving their employees a smooth access to business resources.
The identity management will be combined with Google engine to solve scalability concerns. The main idea will be to ensure that authentication is at all times done within the confines of the firewall (Mather et al., 2009). All the important information will be submitted to IDM system and the information is transferred via a well guarded path to the authenticator. The IDM would be an independent mechanism of authentication. For that reason, integration and deployment will be efficient and quick. After authentication has been done, through authenticated mechanism the rest of the users tend put their trust in the user.
The external identity management resembles the initial format but the information is taken to the authenticator directly. This pattern will be targeting the public cloud. This type of IDM focuses on triggering the authenticator to solve authentication. This system will be using a spreadsheet that keeps the users updated always. In future, another pattern that operates on the basis of cloud to cloud will be introduced (Frederick, 2000). The mechanism of identity that will be used will tend to understand identity in a multiple manner. An openID is a type of user that is decentralized and enables users to log in to multiple accounts with the use of one digital ID. OAuth is another type of user that allows the user permission to access a site without giving a chance to share vital information.
In future, some reliable trends that include the combination of IAM with DLP (data loss prevention) will be considered. This will lead to establishing responses that are automated following the breaching of policies in an organization. There are high expectations that projects to integrate SIEM and IDM will be launched. In the event that SIEM will be integrated with the latest technology to provide a wider view of identity the two systems will become valuable. In future, IAM may be integrated with SOA (service oriented architecture) so that every time application is being done; there will be no need to reverse engineering (RSA's contribution to Cloud security guidelines, 2009).
Although a number of technologies have emerged over time, cloud computing has come with a lot to learn. The technology has brought a good number of challenges just like the benefits. When choosing IDM that will fit any cloud, one should target the one that will be suitable in the future. One should go for a design that will incorporate a number of domains and one that will maintain effective user pool. The complexity of IDM may come to an end sooner than expected if an all around system is introduced.
Cloud computing will continue undergoing transition because the current system is perceived to be more static. In other words, it does not meet the demands of many business organizations. The current computing system is more universal than the traditional system. This has enabled faster automation in security activities. However, the existing system has been perceived as being very complex and the fact that it uses internet makes it easier for unauthorized parties to access the information. In future, there will be need for a simplified system that will be easier to use and access the information needed faster (Gillam, 2010).