Increasing Interest in Identity Management

During last several months I’ve seen a rapid growth of interest in Red Hat’s Identity Management (IdM) solution. This might have been due to different reasons.

  • First of all IdM has become much more mature and well known. In the past you come to a conference and talk about FreeIPA (community version of IdM) and IdM and you get a lot of people in the audience that have never heard about it.

    It is not the case any more. IdM, as a solution, is well known now. There are thousands of the deployments all over the world both using Red Hat supported and community bits. Many projects and open source communities implemented integration with it as an identity back end. There is no surprise that customers who are looking for a good, cost effective identity management solution are now aware of it and start considering it. This leads to questions, calls, face-to-face meetings and presentations.

  • Another reason is that IdM/FreeIPA project has been keeping an ear to the ground and was quick to adjust its plans and implement features in response to some of the tightening regulations in different verticals. Let us, for example,  consider the government space. Over the last couple of years, the policies became more strict requiring a robust solution for two-factor-authentication using CAC and PIV smart cards. IdM responded by adding support for smart cards based authentication making it easy to achieve compliance with the mentioned regulations.
  • Yet another reason is that more and more customers realize that moving to a modern Identity Management system is going to enable them to more quickly and easily transition into the age of hybrid cloud, taking advantage of both public and on premises clouds like OpenStack, and as well as to the world of containers and container management platforms like OpenShift.

Software Costs

One of the main questions people ask when they hear about the IdM solution is: Is Identity Management in Red Hat Enterprise Linux free? It is. Identity Management in Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a component of the platform and not a separately licensable product. What does this mean? This means that you can install IdM on any Red Hat Enterprise Linux server system with a valid subscription and get support from Red Hat.

There are many solutions on the market that build business around identity management services and integration with Active Directory that are not free. They require extra cost and dip into your IT budget.  Red Hat’s IdM solution is different. It is available without extra upfront cost for the software itself.

Total Cost of Ownership

People who have done identity management projects in their lives would support me in the claim that Identity Management should not be viewed as a project. It should be viewed as a program. There can be different phases, but the mindset and budgeting should assume that Identity Management is an ongoing endeavor. And it is actually quite reasonable if you think about it. Identity Management software connects to actual people and workforce dynamics. As the workforce evolves, the Identity Management software reflects the changes: growth, re-orgs, acquisitions and spin-offs. No two identity management implementations are the same. The solution has to adapt to a long list of use cases and be capable of unique requirements of every deployment. On one hand, the solution has to work all the time, and on the other hand, its limits are constantly stretched.

During my visits, I also help to architect a solution if customers are interested in quick “on the fly” white-boarding suggestions. Such designs need to be taken with a grain of salt as drive-by architecture usually considers the main technical requirements outlined during the discussion but does not consider hidden challenges and roadblocks that each organization has. So the suggested architecture should be viewed as a very rough draft and something to start thinking about rather than a precise blueprint that can be followed to a letter. After the first conversation it is recommended to read various publicly available materials. Red Hat documentation and man pages are good sources of information as well as the community project wikis for FreeIPA and SSSD. Identity Management documentation is very well maintained and regularly updated to reflect new changes or address reported issues.

In addition to reading documentation one can engage Red Hat professional services to help with a proof-of-concept or production deployment. Those services are priced per engagement. There are different pre-packaged offerings with the predefined results that you can purchase from Red Hat - just get in touch with your sales representative or technical account manager.

No matter what software you choose for your identity management solution, it makes sense to have someone on the vendor side who will be there to help with any issues and challenges you face, to connect you to experts and to reduce your downtime. Red Hat offers multiple tiers of support. One level includes a Technical Account Manager. More about TAM program can be read here. Since Identity Management should be viewed as an ongoing process and effort it makes sense to consider a TAM or the equivalent service from your vendor. Is it an extra cost? Yes but it is independent from the solution you choose. It is just a good risk mitigation strategy that makes your money work for you with the best possible return.

As always your comments and feedback are very welcome.

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