What Is Identity Orchestration? (Next Evolution of IAM?)

Javed Shah

What Is Identity Orchestration?

Identity Orchestration is an Identity and Access Management (IAM) approach that automates managing and securing digital identities across diverse platforms, primarily multi-cloud environments. It involves coordinating various identity-related tasks such as authentication, authorization, provisioning, de-provisioning, password management, and more across multiple systems and applications.

For instance, when new employees join a company, they often need access to many systems. Manually provisioning access for each system is time-consuming and prone to error. If the employee leaves, de-provisioning access is also essential to prevent unauthorized access.

By automating these processes through identity orchestration, companies can streamline their identity and access management, reduce the risk of security breaches, ensure compliance with regulations, and enhance the user experience by providing seamless access to the required resources.

Identity Management Problems Solved by Orchestration

The challenge of identity management across multi-cloud (or simply diverse platforms) is that such diversity introduces a host of problems that aren’t present (or aren’t as present) in centralized identity systems.

Accordingly, identity orchestration addresses several critical problems associated with identity management, including:

  • Scalability: As organizations grow and add more systems and applications, managing identities can become complex and time-consuming. Identity orchestration automates and streamlines this process, making it easier to scale.
  • Security: Manual management of identities can lead to errors, like forgetting to de-provision a former employee’s access, which could lead to security vulnerabilities. Automated provisioning and de-provisioning help mitigate such risks.
  • Consistency: Ensuring consistent access rights across multiple systems and applications can be challenging. Identity orchestration helps maintain this consistency by centralizing and automating the process.
  • Compliance: Many industries have strict regulations around who can access specific data types. Identity orchestration provides robust auditing capabilities, which can assist in demonstrating compliance with these regulations.
  • User Experience: Users often need to remember multiple credentials for different systems, leading to password fatigue and decreased productivity. With features like single sign-on (SSO), identity orchestration can provide a seamless user experience.
  • Efficiency: Manual identity management tasks can consume significant IT resources. By automating these tasks, identity orchestration can free IT teams to focus on other critical areas.
  • Visibility: With traditional IAM approaches, having a clear overview of who has access to what can be challenging. Identity orchestration platforms usually provide a unified dashboard that gives a comprehensive view of access rights across the organization, aiding in resource optimization and security management.

How Does Identity Orchestration Work?

Identity orchestration works through an orchestrating system that coordinates critical tasks related to IAM across various systems and applications. This orchestration is typically accomplished using a dedicated platform.

There are standard technologies and processes of almost any orchestration system. These include:

  • Integration: First, the identity orchestration platform is integrated with all the systems and applications for which it will manage access. This could be anything from email systems and databases to cloud platforms and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications.
  • Policy Setting: Policies are established within the platform to control system access based on user role, behavior, or attributes of the system or authentication session (time, date, location, etc.).
  • Automation: Policies programmed into an orchestration system can be automated quickly, managing the priorities of that system (provisioning, onboarding, security, etc.). This reduces the manual workload for IT teams and decreases the chances of errors or inconsistencies.
  • Authentication and Authorization: As a baseline, an orchestration solution should be able to handle some of the most important functions of an identity management system–specifically, authenticating users, verifying user identities, and controlling access to system resources based on policies.
  • Audit and Compliance: Finally, the platform also keeps detailed logs of all identity and access management activities. This is crucial for audit purposes and to demonstrate compliance with regulations that mandate certain control over systems and data access.

The specifics of how identity orchestration works can vary depending on the specific technologies and solutions used and the unique requirements of the organization implementing it.

What Should an Organization Look for in an Orchestration Solution?

When choosing an identity orchestration solution, it’s essential to consider several key features and aspects to ensure it will meet your organization’s needs. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Integration with Existing Solutions: The solution should integrate seamlessly with your existing systems, applications, and platforms. This includes both on-premises systems and cloud-based applications.
  • Scalability: Your identity management needs will also grow as your organization grows. Choose a solution that can scale to accommodate increasing users and systems.
  • Automation: One of the main benefits of identity orchestration is automating tasks such as provisioning, de-provisioning, and password resets. Ensure the solution offers a high degree of automation to reduce manual efforts.
  • Security: Features like MFA, SSO, and risk-based access controls can help improve security. Look for a system that offers the best security measures for specific, necessary functions like authentication, authorization, or management.
  • Compliance and Auditing: The solution should provide robust auditing capabilities to track and log all identity and access activities. This is crucial for demonstrating compliance with regulations.
  • User Experience: Features like self-service password resets and single sign-on can enhance the user experience, reducing frustration and help-desk calls.
  • Vendor Support: Consider the vendor’s reputation, their track record in providing support, and the availability of resources such as documentation and training.
  • Cost: Finally, consider the cost of the solution, not only in terms of the purchase price or subscription fees but also the costs related to implementation, training, and ongoing maintenance.

The Fabric of Identity Orchestration

As identity and authentication technologies evolve, the methods through which providers and other users can orchestrate identity management. Following that, robust infrastructure and security integration into these systems becomes crucial.

Thus, there are a couple of related security and technical systems that touch on identity orchestration–namely, identity fabrics and zero-trust architecture:

  • Identity Fabrics: This relatively newer concept in IAM represents a holistic approach to identity services across an organization. It’s a design principle that calls for a single, consistent layer of identity services, which can be used by all parts of an organization, regardless of where they are or what underlying technology they use. Identity Orchestration and identity fabrics work together to provide seamless and unified management of identities across an organization. Identity orchestration is the operational aspect, automating and managing identity tasks, while Identity Fabrics provide the architectural framework that allows this orchestration to occur across the entire organization.
  • Zero-Trust Architecture: This is a security concept centered on the belief that organizations should not automatically trust anything inside or outside its perimeters and instead must verify anything and everything trying to connect to its systems before granting access. This can be implemented in part through robust identity verification processes. Zero-trust identity ties into this by adding a layer of security. The automation provided by Identity Orchestration, combined with the architectural structure of identity fabrics, can help implement the zero trust model by ensuring every access request is thoroughly verified, no matter where it comes from or what it’s accessing. This is done by continuously validating the user’s identity and the request context to minimize the risk of a security breach.

Maintain the Strongest Authentication Security with 1Kosmos BlockID

Identity orchestration seems like the standard for authentication and identity management in varied or multi-cloud environments. This fact doesn’t mean, however, that you have to sacrifice individual security measures when working with an orchestration solution. Rather, count on 1Kosmos to support your security and compliance needs regardless of your orchestration solution.

With 1Kosmos, you get the following benefits:

  • Identity-Based Authentication: We push biometrics and authentication into a new “who you are” paradigm. BlockID uses biometrics to identify individuals, not devices, through credential triangulation and identity verification.
  • Cloud-Native Architecture: Flexible and scalable cloud architecture makes it simple to build applications using our standard API and SDK.
  • Identity Proofing: BlockID verifies identity anywhere, anytime and on any device with over 99% accuracy.
  • Privacy by Design: Embedding privacy into the design of our ecosystem is a core principle of 1Kosmos. We protect personally identifiable information in a distributed identity architecture and the encrypted data is only accessible by the user.
  • Private and Permissioned Blockchain: 1Kosmos protects personally identifiable information in a private and permissioned blockchain and encrypts digital identities and is only accessible by the user. The distributed properties ensure that there are no databases to breach or honeypots for hackers to target.
  • Interoperability: BlockID can readily integrate with existing infrastructure through its 50+ out of the box integrations or via API/SDK.
  • SIM Binding: The BlockID application uses SMS verification, identity proofing, and SIM card authentication to create solid, robust, and secure device authentication from any employee’s phone.

Sign up for our newsletter to learn more about how BlockID can support identity orchestration and identity management. Also, make sure to contact us and our experts to learn more about 1Kosmos.

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Meet the Author

Javed Shah

Former Senior Vice President Of Product Management

Javed has spent his entire twenty year career designing and building blockchain and identity management solutions. He has led large customer facing pre-sales teams, led product management for identity management platforms like the ForgeRock Identity Platform and the ForgeRock Identity Cloud. Javed has an MBA from UC Berkeley.