It is time to start thinking more holistically about the capabilities of identity and access management and IT automation solutions to reach the end-goal of true business automation. Technologists continue to have a siloed view of their specific needs when searching for IT solutions, but by taking a step back and looking at their organization’s overall needs, it becomes apparent that service catalogs, IT automation, business process automation and identity management should all be addressed from a single type of solution.
“IT automation” should not be thought of in terms of just automating processes across the technology landscape. It should be a broader term describing the automation of any technology-related process including how the business interacts with technology and IT. Along the same lines, “identity and access management” should not be restricted to only deal with system accounts and access of those accounts. “Identity management” needs to focus on all aspects of what an identity requires throughout its life at an organization.
There are some key features needed to address IT automation, identity management and self-service business process automation:
- Dynamic workflow engine that enables business ownership of approvals as well as IT ownership of approvals
- Integration to a large number of systems (i.e. databases, ERP systems, applications, operating systems, or any other system where automation should occur)
- Self-service user interface that is easy to use and embraced by end-users
- Robust auditing
- Business focused rather than IT focused design
From looking at the IT automation requirements above, an enterprise-class identity and access management solution already possesses all of these core components. As I’ve mentioned in the past, it is imperative that IT leaders become more innovative in their use of technology. Solutions fitting only one specific need can often be used for other functions as long as their technical capabilities are matched with business requirements.
An access request system should offer an intuitive shopping/request experience along with flexible workflows that are needed in both an IAM solution as well as any other self-service request solution (such as business catalogs). Why not utilize the intuitive interface used for requesting access to also request any other type of service, asset or IT-specific need?
Thinking from a purely technical standpoint, many IT automation capabilities are handled via APIs or other integration to the target system. Identity and access management solutions possess this connector framework already, so leveraging a similar approach can be accomplished through an identity management system.
For instance, while an Active Directory connector is used by an IAM solution to create accounts, modify accounts or delete accounts on that system, why not use a VMware connector off of the same IAM interface to create VMs, adjust VM storage capabilities or delete VMs? The technology already exists, so it just takes some innovative thinking to implement a more holistic solution to improve business and IT operations.
While I have not seen this flexibility in many of the big name IAM solutions, I do know that Avatier’s identity management software suite of products is perfectly aligned to take on full IT Automation requirements. Why pay for unique siloed tools when you can have an identity management solution for your actionable service catalog, access management, and assignment management solution all through IT automation?
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Begin your identity management initiative by following what corporate compliance experts recommend for the workflow automation of businesses processes, self-service administration and IT operations.