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What is IDaaS?

All You Need to Know

What is IDaaS?

IDaaS, or identity-as-a-service, is cloud-based identity and access management (IAM) offered by a third-party provider. IDaaS can include a wide range of services, including:

how idaas works

IDaaS Defined

Anything that has “as-a-service” in it typically reflects an operational model where an external party provides some service to a business, instead of the business deploying that service themselves. In IDaaS, the service is identity and access management.

Companies choose IDaaS because building, deploying, and managing an in-house service for multi-channel authentication is time-consuming and complicated. There are too many use cases to implement, and too many things to take care of. A single design flaw can later lead to exploitable vulnerabilities. Moreover, if an issue arises, or if an integration with a client hits a snag, your team has to figure out how to solve the problem themselves.

Conversely, with IDaaS, you get a mature solution created by subject matter experts in the field of identity and access management. You get a solution that has all the features you need to provide a secure, seamless log-in experience to your employees, customers, partners, and vendors. Integrating an IDaaS service with web, mobile, and desktop applications is quick, easy, and cost-effective.

How Does IDaaS Work?

When you purchase an IDaaS subscription, you are given an API (application programming interface) and/or a centralized configuration portal. You can use either to integrate your application suite with the identity products of the service provider and offer single sign-on, social login, adaptive authentication, and other features.

Whenever an end user logs in to an application, the API is used to send an authentication request to the identity service provider. The IDaaS system verifies the identity of the user and then grants them access to the requested resources. In some cases, IDaaS may also perform authorization, i.e. use predefined policies to determine which resources/data an authenticated user can access.

What Are the Benefits of IDaaS?

Businesses are choosing IDaaS for the following reasons:

  • Save development and maintenance costs. An in-house identity service usually requires ongoing development, to meet new compliance requirements, onboard new customers, and fix any identified bugs. It also requires periodic maintenance in the form of server and OS upgrades, vulnerability patching, and data backups etc. IDaaS enables you to eliminate these development and maintenance costs.

  • Become future-proof. The top identity providers strive to keep up with the ever-changing dynamics of the security landscape. This means that an investment in a good IDaaS product is future-proof.

  • Integrate easily. IDaaS makes it super convenient to integrate IAM with your entire application suite. You can also set different policies for different user communities (partners, vendors, customers, employees).

  • Improved login experiences. A secure, user-friendly login experience sets the perfect first impression for your organization.

  • Scale at will. Cloud subscriptions make it easy for you to scale up and meet rising consumer and/or infrastructure demands.

  • Increased productivity. An IDaaS solution enables you to centralize and automate the identity and access management lifecycles for your organization. This means faster onboarding, faster privilege grants, and increased productivity.

  • Enhanced security. IDaaS solutions are developed by security experts and are designed to keep malicious actors at bay. Choosing the right IDaaS vendor significantly reduces your risk of a data breach, which can lead to massive data and financial losses.

IDaaS vs. IAM

IAM, short for identity and access management, defines the rules, policies, and privileges that are used to verify the identity of a user, during authentication. IAM can be implemented and/or delivered in many ways, one of which is IDaaS.

IDaaS can be referred to as SaaS-delivered IAM. IDaaS providers implement an IAM solution in-house and then allow their customers to integrate with it, providing features like single sign-on, adaptive authentication, and authorization, etc.

Is IAMaaS the Same as IDaaS?

The terms IAMaaS (identity and access management as a service) and IDaaS are often used interchangeably, and for good reason. They are essentially the same thing. Some people refer to IAMaaS as a successor to the first-generation IDaaS solutions, which weren’t as feature-rich.

However, these days, many companies are offering IDaaS and IAMaaS products with similar feature sets. So, to answer the question “Is IAMaaS the same as IDaaS?” -- yes it is.

Types of IDaaS

Depending on the feature set, an IDaaS solution can be of the following two types:

  • Basic IDaaS. Ideal for cloud-first, small-to-medium–sized organizations, which mainly need SSO capabilities for their cloud-based applications. These companies barely have any onsite/legacy infrastructure, if at all.

  • Enterprise IDaaS. This type is perfect for larger enterprises with diverse, interconnected systems. Enterprise IDaaS solutions have a much bigger feature set and can usually cater to many more operational use-cases. Enterprise customers typically have a mix of multi-cloud and onsite infrastructure and require a diverse set of APIs for integrations. Service providers may even have to customize their IDaaS products to accommodate the personalized demands of the enterprise customer.

IDaaS Requirements

Most organizations expect an IDaaS product to have the following features:

  • Single Sign-on (SSO). A staple of virtually all identity products, single sign-on is a must have. It enables employees, customers, partners, and vendors to seamlessly log in across web, desktop, and mobile applications.

  • Directory integration. If you want to keep using your directory service for authentication, look for an IDaaS provider that offers seamless integration with it.

  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). Relying on a single authentication factor is not safe, regardless of how robust the authentication platform may be. An IDaaS provider should support MFA at all costs.

  • Quick provisioning. A good IDaaS product simplifies the user provisioning and deprovisioning process.

  • Policy-based authentication. IDaaS products should also allow you to specify different access policies, which are then used to verify and authorize different types of users.

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