• United States
Contributing Writer

What identity management can do for you

Jul 16, 20033 mins
Access ControlEnterprise Applications

* The importance of identity management

Identity management. It’s a buzzword you’re going to hear a lot about over the next year as the IT community figures out how best to deal with security and access.

According to my colleague Senior Editor John Fontana, identity management is “a set of business processes and an infrastructure for the creation, maintenance and use of digital identities under strict policies and legal constraints.”

Put simply, identity management offers IT managers a way to match users – no matter how they are accessing the network or when – to levels of access. For instance, a chief financial officer could automatically have access rights assigned that are much different than a data entry person without having to deal with a lot of configurations for each.

But identity management goes deeper. It allows Web services to be matched up to users so they receive targeted data to any device they are using. For instance, the CEO could log on to the network and automatically, based on her identity, receive an executive dashboard as her home page. An accounts payable person could log on and receive the latest company information from Human Resources.

More than security, identity management will go to the core of the organization and help disseminate information in a proper fashion, ensuring that the right person is matched with the right data.

Identity management will also help companies keep a lock on intellectual property. If only the people who are supposed to see certain documents have access rights, then the chances of that information getting exposed are slimmer.

The IT community is hard at work to develop standards for identity management, hoping to steer software makers in the direction of interoperability.

The potential for identity management services is enormous – but only if the products are easy to use and easy to integrate. If software makers start adding unwieldy complexity, then IT managers will shy away.

In the world of budgets, identity management is a nice-to-have, not a must-have. And if access to the network “ain’t broke” no one is going to rush to fix it.

Identity management can be a tough sell in times like these, but there are plenty of benefits. And in the end, they could outweigh the expense. Take a look at this technology for your organization and see how it stacks up.

For more on identity management, check out Network World Fusion’s research center: