Cloud Identity and Access Management vs. On-Premise: Which Is Best?

Posted by Gary Utley on January 21, 2020

Cloud Identity and Access ManagementProtecting your organization begins with protecting access. Today, organizations have two clear choices: cloud-based identity and access management systems, or on-premise solutions. For years, companies have been using on-premise solutions such as on-premise Active Directory — but that's now changing as the need for cloud support grows.

Cloud Identity and Access Management

As a newer technology, cloud-based identity and access management solutions have a significant number of benefits over traditional, on-premise solutions. Cloud identity and access management is still being improved upon, optimized, and developed, and is consequently a technology that is consistently becoming more secure, reliable, and robust.

Here are some of the core benefits for cloud identity and access management:

  • They can be managed as-a-service by a managed services provider. If you don't want to have to manage your own access, you don't have to. This means that trouble tickets related to identity and access (a large portion of all trouble tickets) will be forwarded to the managed services help desk, instead, reducing the burden on your internal IT department. By offloading your security to a managed services provider, you're able to concentrate on revenue-generating activities.
  • They are extensible and scalable, able to support large volumes of end users and activity. Cloud identity solutions can be expanded to suit an organization of any size, thereby making it easier to scale. An on-premise solution might require the upgrade of identity and access management servers or solutions in order to accommodate larger volumes of users, in addition to having multiple pieces of equipment installed if there are multiple departments and offices.
  • They can be integrated into a number of cloud solutions, centralizing identity services. A centralized identity solution is much preferred in terms of security. It's only a single access point that has to be managed and controlled, and employees are less likely to try to use passwords that are easy to crack. By centralizing identity services, you can make it easier for your employees to be efficient, while also controlling security overall. 
  • They can be accessed from anywhere, used for both cloud and on-premise activity. A cloud identity access management solution can be connected to on mobile devices, desktops, other offices, inside the office, and so forth, whereas an on-premise solution is only accessible within the reach of the data center. 
  • They can achieve greater levels of regulatory compliance. Identity access and management services have worked to ensure that they have greater levels of regulatory compliance. Regulations change all the time, and an on-premise solution may not be updated in accordance with them. An identity access solution (and an MSP) can ensure that your system is kept up to date.

In many ways, the advantages of cloud identity and access management coincides with the benefits of cloud solutions overall. A cloud-based access management system will never fall behind on security updates, because it will be automatically updated. It will always be accessible to employees, and it can support greater amounts of activity.

On-Premise Access Management

With all that in mind, is there any advantage to performing endpoint privilege management on-premise? There is one major one: security. There's still nothing more private than on-premise access management. 

While cloud solutions are becoming more secure day by day, on-premise solutions have the advantage of simply being inaccessible from anywhere but the internal network. Cloud solutions do have an expanded attack surface, regardless of how well that attack surface is protected.

Further, most malicious attacks actually occur due to compromised third-party solutions. With a cloud solution, you do have to trust someone to manage it, rather than controlling the entirety of the solution itself.

Further, on-premise solutions can operate without external network access. If the internet goes down, an on-premise solution still functions, and in fact it can function even if the entirety of the network is disconnected from the internet. With access to a WAN, an on-premise solution won't just be more inherently protected, but it will also be faster. It won't rely on external data, so it will have extraordinarily low latency and favorable connectivity.

And there's a pragmatic answer as well. Switching to a cloud identity and access management solution isn't entirely non-trivial. It can be an extensive process. A company that doesn't yet operate on the cloud and is not overly concerned about its access management solution may find that their cost-benefit analysis weighs more heavily on the other side.

Hybrid Access Management Solutions

Organizations may also opt to use hybrid solutions, such as using a Hybrid Directory service with Active Directory. Companies are increasingly using hybrid solutions to get the best of both worlds. They are able to use the extensibility and the accessibility of the cloud while still using their more secured, on-premise solutions for intellectual property and confidential information. 

As with many technology choices, there isn't a clear-cut solution. Instead, there are different solutions for different infrastructures. Companies that lean on their cloud solutions will prefer cloud identity and access management. Companies that largely operate on-premises are going to find on-premises identity management more useful to them. 

Want to start improving your access management today? You don't have to do it alone. Contact Red River today to find out more. 

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Topics: Cloud Managed Services