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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
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Gartner names Veriphyr “Cool Vendor in Identity and Access Management”

Author: Mark Dixon
Friday, April 29, 2011
11:18 am

Congratulations to my good friend Alan Norquist, whose company Veriphyr was named a “Cool Vendor in Identity and Access Management” by in a recent Gartner report.  Veriphyr offers an on-demand SaaS service that “analyzes identities, privileges, and user activity to detect violation of access control down to the record level to deter snooping into sensitive data.” 

I received Alan’s email informing me of this recognition earlier today – ironically just two days after I posted an article about the business benefits of Identity and Access Intelligence.  Here is Veriphyr’s definition of Identity and Access Intelligence:

Identity and access intelligence (IAI) is a new category of SaaS application that uses advanced data analytics to mine identity, rights, and activity data for intelligence that is useful not only for IT operations, but also for broader business operations. What is new about IAI is its focus on the needs of the business manager, who typically has the best knowledge of what resources their direct reports should or should not be accessing, when they should be accessing it, and how much resource utilization is appropriate. IAI informs the identity and access management process (IAM) in a way that provides rapid value to business managers and generates the buy-in from business stakeholders that is needed for a successful project implementation.

I predict that this segment of the Identity and Access Management market will grow rapidly, as enterprises seek to gain actionable intelligence from their growing mountains of available Identity and Access data.

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Business Value from Identity and Access Intelligence

Business, Identity
Author: Mark Dixon
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
4:27 pm

It was almost two months ago when I first mentioned on this blog the term coined by Gartner, “Identity and Access Intelligence.”  I have been thinking much lately about the real business value enterprises can derive from this discipline, and will attempt in this post to enumerate and comment on such benefits.

As good fortune would have it, my Oracle Colleague Nishant Kaushik shared with me a copy of a presentation deck he used recently, entitled, “Identity Intelligence to Drive Business Objectives.”

For the purpose of this discussion, we will use the term “IAM Intelligence” to refer to “Identity and Access Intelligence” or “Identity Intelligence”. Furthermore, we will regard IAM intelligence to include tools for IAM data collection, aggregation, analysis, presentation and automated action, coupled with the human processes for seeking to understand, present and act on that data – the transformation of data into actionable intelligence.

Earl Perkins of Gartner put it this way:

IAM intelligence is more than knowledge for IT users to make IT users’ lives easier. IAM intelligence can be part of the business intelligence realm if properly analyzed and presented to the right audiences.


Primary Business Benefits

The following major business benefits can accrue from IAM intelligence.  These are roughly the same as Nishant used in his presentation, in a slightly different order.

  1. Enable Visibility and Transparency.  If an enterprise is to effectively answer the compelling questions, “Who has access to what?”, “Who granted that access?” and “How were such assess rights used?”, a great degree of information visibility and transparency is needed.   The questions are simple; the process of answering them is not.  IAM intelligence seeks to answer these questions quickly and accurately, in a manner that reduces business risk and increases regulatory compliance at a resonable cost.
  2. Support Business Decisions.  Good business decisions should be based on reliable information, not on supposition.  A client recently remarked,”We need to base our decisions on facts, not just on what we think those facts are or should be.”  IAM intelligence provides the foundation for making good business decisions based on reliable information.
  3. Turn Data into Insight, and Insight into Action.  With the expansion of IAM infrastructure for administering user, role and entitlement life cycles and enforcing access policy, the amount of relevant Identity and Access data is immense.  That raw data does little good unless we can effectively organize and analyze such data so effective business decisions can be made and intelligent action can be taken as a result.  IAM intelligence enables the transformation of raw data into actionable insight.
  4. Strengthen Identity & Access Governance. The structured method for managing IAM systems, or IAM Governance, can be made more effective if accurate, reliable, timely and actionable information is available for IAM stakeholders to make good decisions.
  5. Identify, Measure and Manage Risk.  To effectively manage risk, an enterprise must accurately identify what risks exist, create policies for dealing with such risks, and implement effective controls for enforcing those policies.  Actionable information provided by IAM Intelligence can enable enterprises to correctly identify, understand and control risk.
  6. Contain Costs. Gathering and evaluating data through manual means can be very expensive, including initial data collection, manipulation, analysis and presentation.  Automated Identity Intelligence methods can minimize costs by taking labor out of the process.
  7. Build Trust. In order for any information system to become an effective foundation for business execution, business leaders must implicity trust the tools and processes that comprise the the system.  An effective IAM Intelligence system will provide that trusted foundation that a business leader can use to guide his or her business activities.


Benefits from Automation

Why can’t we just use some smart people armed with spreadsheets to accomplish the same objectives?

  1. Accuracy. Manual methods of data collection and organization inevitably introduce errors, which at best are difficult to find and correct, and at worst, alter business decisions in unfortunate ways.
  2. Timeliness.  Manual methods often take a lot of elapsed time, causing business decisions to be delayed and needed actions to be postponed.
  3. Presentation.  While much can be done with spreadsheet graphics and reports, more powerful reporting, dashboard and presentation facilities may be available with an automated system.
  4. Repeatability.  Manual methods may vary as different people become involved at different parts of the process, causing variabiltiy in results from cycle to cycle.
  5. Auditability.  Manual methods are more difficult to audit, because of the variability in the human part of the process.
  6. Cost control.  The costs of manual methods often exceed automated processes, because the labor content of the process recurrs in every cycle. Automated methods can reduce these costs


The Bottom Line?

The overall benefit we realize from IAM Intelligence is the ability to take effective business action, based on intelligent business decisions … leading to faster, stronger business success.

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