Turning IAM data into intelligence

* Simply logging access data is really not worth much to the enterprise unless you can have an automated process mine that data for 'interesting' nuggets of information

Gartner's Earl Perkins (research vice president in the security and privacy team) recently blogged about establishing a relationship between identity and access management, and business intelligence.

What Perkins noted was: "From the beginning there have been identity and access repositories for the identities themselves and their attributes, of entitlements, roles -- all of that information that allows the 'engines' to do their job, whether it's authenticating, authorizing, provisioning, certifying -- there are a number of processes and events unfolding in a typical IAM process, and much of it is being recorded." Of course, acquiring data is easy (and automated) while actually doing something with that data is laborious.

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I've mentioned many times that simply logging access data, while keeping you in compliance with many regulations, is really not worth much to the enterprise unless you can have an automated process mine that data for "interesting" nuggets of information. What I was primarily thinking of was security information -- a real-time look at potential security breaches. But Perkins raises another use of that data.

He notes: "With those records or logs, one could say that data, once properly assembled and correlated turns into information. That information once reviewed, analyzed, and presented to the right people, process, or other application becomes knowledge, or information with value. One could even say that once that knowledge gets into the hands of the right people and they make actionable decisions with it, it's no longer knowledge -- it's intelligence."

What's needed, of course, are applications and services that can mine those logs and identify the data that could be turned into information, which becomes knowledge.

This isn't a trivial task. This isn't something that off-the-shelf software can accomplish today. It could possibly be offered as cloud-based software-as-a-service but would still need tweaking and customizing for various vertical markets as well as for individual organizations within each vertical. It won't come cheap, at least initially. But those enterprises that can take those millions of gigabytes of raw data and turn it into kilobytes of intelligent information the payoff will be enormous. Think about the data you have taking up storage space -- and how it could be helping your business.

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