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What is Identity and Access Management (IAM)?

According to Gartner, Identity and Access Management (IAM) is the discipline that enables the right individuals or non-person entities to access the right resources at the right times for the right reasons. Identity and Access Management (IAM) addresses the mission-critical need to ensure appropriate access to resources across increasingly heterogeneous technology environments and meet increasingly rigorous compliance requirements. Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a crucial undertaking for any enterprise. It is increasingly business-aligned, and it requires business skills, not just technical expertise.

While most people might immediately think about technologies and tools when hearing the term Identity and Access Management (IAM), the discipline also encompasses the policies and processes that govern the access rights of individuals, systems, and applications within an organization.

Identity and Access Management (IAM) tools provide the ability to identify, authenticate, and authorize users (which nowadays can include applications, machines, and microservices), as well as track, enforce, and report on those activities. The Identity and Access Management (IAM) market is segmented into Access Management (a.k.a. Identity-as-a-Service) / Single Sign-On (SSO), Privileged Access Management (PAM), Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM), Advanced Authentication, Identity Governance and Administration (IGA), and Internet of Things (IoT)-driven IAM solutions.

Identity and Access Management (IAM) has become a vital part of IT security as cyber-attackers continue to utilize compromised user credentials to break into enterprise networks. Done right, it aligns access rights with the needs of the business, guaranteeing that members of the organization obtain the permissions they need when they need them. Effective approaches to Identity and Access Management (IAM) limit the damage that can be done through stolen, weak, default, or otherwise compromised credentials, particularly by leveraging information such as behavioral analytics, device characteristics, and geographic location to add a level of additional context to decisions about authentication and access.

As organizations grow, the prospect of handling Identity and Access Management (IAM) manually is not practical. Through Identity and Access Management (IAM), businesses can automate the task of orchestrating the allotment and deprovisioning of access rights and auditing of that access. It also forms the foundation of a Zero Trust architecture that provides just enough access for just enough time to enable users to perform their authorized tasks.

Ultimately, organizations that develop mature Identity and Access Management (IAM) capabilities can reduce their identity management costs and, more importantly, become significantly more agile in supporting new business initiatives.

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