*Editor’s note: To read Part I of this article, click here. To read Part II of this article, click here. To read Part III of this article, click here.
The previous articles in this series have highlighted the broad range of business and technology drivers for identity management and the need for a standards-based architecture blueprint. There are a number of steps that organisations should take to establish this architectural approach and so respond to those requirements. So what are they?
Any identity management initiative must begin with an understanding of the business objectives. You can use the model introduced in my first article to understand those objectives and the capabilities required to deliver them to provide the foundation for an identity management roadmap which prioritises those objectives, defines requirements for identity management technology and outlines an architectural approach to effectively harness that technology. However, you must avoid the tendency to “boil the ocean”. You need to understand the relative priorities of the different objectives in order to focus on the projects which provide opportunities for quick wins - but without losing sight of the broader roadmap.
The creation of your roadmap and the scoping of initial projects should incorporate a review of existing identity management solutions, data and processes. This is likely to reveal that identity data and capabilities are fragmented in existing applications and systems and will highlight both duplication and deficiencies. You can use this review to identify the identity data, capabilities and processes that should be harvested from your current IT portfolio.
It is unlikely that budget and time constraints will allow a “big bang” implementation. This increases the risk of perpetuating existing silos and introducing new ones as technologies are acquired to address high priority requirements. You can use your roadmap will help to reduce this risk by ensuring that existing technologies and new acquisitions are considered in the context of business objectives.
An understanding of users and requirements is essential for risk management as well as for determining the appropriate set of identity technologies for your needs. In the case of external users, you must consider identity from their or their employers’ perspective. In a business-to-business context this understanding is critical if you are going to define and assign responsibilities for the creation of identity data and policies, provisioning of that data, policy enforcement and auditing and other phases of the identity lifecycle and to establish frameworks for identity federation and data disclosure between parties. In a business-to-consumer context, on the other hand, you must pay close attention to developments in the world of user-centric identity, in terms of both the standards and the leading players, and how enterprise identity management players plan to coexist with user-centric identity initiatives. Ease-of-use and consistency are also important considerations, together with processes and technologies which instil consumers with confidence in the security and privacy of identity data.