IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

The Intersection of Hybrid Cloud and Identity

Identity and access management can protect access to resources hosted and managed across hybrid cloud environments. By Yev Koup

Digital transformation. We hear it mentioned all the time as organizations look to what’s next for their technology strategies. Generally speaking, it refers to digitizing business processes to more efficiently solve business problems and more effectively serve customers through online channels. But what does that actually entail?

Moving to the cloud is typically a key component of this transformation, and companies are rapidly shifting in that direction. In fact, Gartner found that this year, more than 45% of IT spending on system infrastructure, infrastructure software, application software, and business process outsourcing will shift from traditional solutions to cloud.

For many organizations, moving to the cloud actually means moving to multiple clouds. A hybrid cloud infrastructure is often chosen because it provides organizations with ultimate flexibility, cost efficiency, and agility. But a hybrid cloud approach can also create security vulnerabilities if it’s not carefully architected. 

According to the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Incident Report, misconfiguration of cloud services is the second largest cause of breaches, eclipsed only by hacking. MGM Resorts’ breach in 2020 was the result of unauthorized access to a cloud server and resulted in leaked account information for upwards of 10 million users. 

While cloud migration does alter the threat landscape, security vulnerabilities aren’t a foregone conclusion. With more entry points available to users and bad actors, organizations are finding better identity and authentication approaches to enhance security. This is where identity and access management (IAM) steps in to protect access to resources hosted and managed across hybrid cloud environments. 

What Is Hybrid Cloud?

Hybrid cloud combines public cloud workloads and infrastructure with on-premises workloads and infrastructure, enabling organizations to leverage the optimal mix of each deployment model.

A hybrid cloud strategy gives organizations greater flexibility by balancing workloads between cloud and on premises as IT needs shift and costs fluctuate. This gives companies more options and control over their private data. For example, an organization can host its sensitive data in a private cloud or in its on-premises data center while leveraging the robust computational resources of the public cloud. Hybrid cloud solutions often provide a single place to manage and configure capabilities across domains to simplify administration.

Hybrid Cloud and Secure Digital Access Go Hand in Hand

Digital identity’s central function is to provide users with the right level of access to the right resources in the right context. An authentication authority is how businesses keep access secure across hybrid cloud environments. Its capabilities include single sign-on (SSO) and multifactor authentication (MFA), which improve security and increase the productivity of employees, customers, and partners.

For employees, cloud SSO reduces the number of passwords in use, which in turn reduces the costs of password resets and increases employee productivity. On the customer front, IAM provides the capabilities to increase customer loyalty and satisfaction through improved experiences such as unified profiles and passwordless login.

When an organization deploys a hybrid cloud strategy, IAM becomes even more integral. As resources become distributed among several clouds and on-premises data centers, the ability to identify users and grant them the right level of access to the right things at the right time is critical to the organization’s security posture. This distributed model creates flexibility and agility for IT but can also lead to security vulnerabilities if it’s not architected properly.

This is where hybrid cloud IAM comes in. An authentication authority plays a critical security role in hybrid cloud, enabling employers to integrate and provide IAM regardless of where their resources and identities are hosted, whether on premises in a personal data center, in a partner cloud, or among several public clouds. 

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