What is IDaaS?
Identity as a Service, or IDaaS is cloud-based authentication built and operated by a third-party provider. IDaaS companies supply cloud-based authentication or identity management to enterprises who subscribe.
The X-as-a-service model in information technology is easy to understand. It means some feature is being delivered or served to a company through a remote connection from a third-party provider, as opposed to a feature being managed on site and by in-house personnel alone. Think of local email, such as Microsoft Outlook or Thunderbird, operating primarily on one's own computer versus cloud email, such as Gmail, being provided to users as a service through web connections. Identity, security, and other features can similarly be provided as a service.
The goal of an Identity Service is to ensure users are who they claim to be, and to give them the right kinds of access to software applications, files, or other resources at the right times. If the infrastructure to make this happen is built on site, then the company has to figure out what to do every time a problem comes up. If Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) employees are changing to different types of phones, for example, the local identity provisioning has to adapt immediately. It is much simpler to implement a centralized cloud-based system created by identity experts who have already solved such problems for hundreds of organizations.
IDaaS can be used for a number of different applications. Adaptive multi-factor authentication is one such use. This is a feature where users submit multiple factors to gain entry to the network—thus increasing security over single-factor authentication—and access is granted dynamically, depending on how much risk users present.
Another application is single sign-on. This allows users to sign on only once at the network perimeter, and with that single effort, obtain access to whichever parts of the company's constellation of programs and resources are authorized.
A third application for IDaaS is Okta’s Universal Directory. UD is a central, cloud-based system for firms to ensure that only those users with the right security permissions can access restricted data. These are just three examples of ways IDaaS can be used.
A chief advantage of IDaaS is savings. Provisioning identity on site, with software such as Active Directory Domain Services, can be full of costs. Your team has to keep up servers; purchase, upgrade, and install software; back up data regularly; pay hosting fees; monitor the additional turf on premises for network security; set up VPNs; and much more. With IDaaS, costs drop to the subscription fee and the administration work. That's it.
Besides savings, ROI for IDaaS includes improved cybersecurity and saved time with faster logins and fewer password resets. Whether a user is signing in from open WiFi at an airport or from a desk in the office, the process is seamless and secure. The improved security can keep companies from facing a hack or breach that might topple their business.
IDaaS is the future
Fundamentally, the cloud offers savings, efficiency, and expertise. Like network security monitoring or email search, identity can be moved to the cloud.
Interested in some real-world examples? Check out what others like Adobe, News Corp, and Flex have done.