Managing Consumer Identities in the Cloud

Cloud environments have created situations that allow users, customers, consumers, and employees to access Public, Intranet, and Extranet applications from different locations, devices, and as different personas. The focus of all the Internet and enterprise front-end applications today is to enhance the user experience. In addition, with advances in mobility and BYOD, the line between public and private becomes a deep shade of gray.
At the same time, organizations are leveraging SaaS applications, such as Google Apps and DropBox, for their internal business communication and collaboration. This opens up challenges in providing a universal identity for the user, while at the same time retaining the flexibility to segregate access depending on the scenario. While cloud computing environments may offer different levels of abstraction to its users, federated identity management does not leverage these abstractions; each user must set up her identity management solution. This situation is further aggravated by the fact that no identity federation solution is able to integrate all abstraction layers (i.e., IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS). The overwhelming challenge is to manage the user’s identity effectively and in a compliant manner while retaining the richness of the user experience.

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