Cloud IAM or IDaaS vs. On premise Identity and Access Provision

Black digital cubes with ones and zeros symbolize stored IAM data for cloud-based IAM.

Engity is a cloud-based IAM or access provider. We deliver IDaaS (Identity as a Service). We do this because we believe that in most cases IDaaS is advantageous when compared to on-premise access management solutions.

And we have our reasons.

Let's look into the differences between on-premise IAM and cloud-based IAM, along with their respective pros and cons.

What is On-Premise IAM or Access Management?

On-premise IAM refers to an Identity and Access Management system that is deployed and maintained within an organization's own infrastructure, typically within their own data centers or server rooms.

Such a setup does of course have advantages in some dimensions.

  • Control: With on-premise IAM, organizations have full control over their IAM infrastructure, including hardware, software, and configurations. This level of control can be beneficial for organizations with strict regulatory compliance requirements or specific security needs. It may, to a certain extent, also reduce compliance overhead as there is no supply chain to look into.

  • Customization: On-premise IAM solutions allow, in theory at least, for greater customization to align with an organization's unique requirements. This flexibility enables tailored security policies, integrations with existing systems, and specific workflows.

  • Network Dependency: On-premise IAM solutions typically operate within an organization's internal network, which can be advantageous for scenarios where the availability or reliability of external network connectivity is a concern.

What is Cloud-based IAM (Identity as a Service - IDaaS)?

Cloud-based IAM, also referred to as Identity as a Service (IDaaS), involves using IAM capabilities provided by a third-party service provider via the cloud. The IAM infrastructure and services are hosted and maintained by the provider, accessible to organizations over the internet.

IDaaS has some obvious advantages.

  • Lower Cost of Entry: Cloud-based IAM typically operates on a subscription or pay-as-you-go model, allowing organizations to avoid significant upfront costs. This makes it more accessible to businesses of varying sizes and budget constraints.

  • Scalability and Flexibility: Cloud-based IAM solutions offer scalability, enabling organizations to easily add or remove users, adjust resources, and adapt to changing needs without worrying about infrastructure limitations. They can often also integrate with other cloud services and applications seamlessly.

  • Maintenance and Updates: With a cloud-based IAM solution, the service provider handles infrastructure maintenance, software updates, and security patches. This reduces the burden on internal IT teams, allowing organizations to focus more on their core business activities: the things they specialize in and that earn them money.

  • Companies do not need and also often do not have the authentication experts inhouse who can protect the company’s infrastructure adequately.

On-Premise IAM or SaaS – what to choose?

Engity offers IAM only in the form of Identity as a Service as we believe that overall, the pros of a (purely) cloud-based solution by far outweigh the cons. Of course, given that there are advantages of on-premise IAM, that may not be true for every potential user, but for most of them.

Let's look at the pros and cons listed above and access them.

  • While running IAM on their own infrastructure may be a requirement in some industries, it is also rather inefficient as resources cannot be pooled for many customers, lowering the cost per customer considerably. If done wrong, there may also be issues with expanding existing resources. And, of course, for start-ups doing their own IAM may simply be too capital intensive.

  • The argument regarding easier customization on-premise may be valid in some cases for company internal Enterprise Access Management having specialized personnel available. It does not apply to customer-facing access management or CIAM. In those latter cases, it is imperative to offer customers a standardized workflow they are being used to. At the same time, IDaaS providers today offer a very rich set of services that typically fulfil all needs except for very rare edge cases.

  • The main argument for choosing cloud based IDaaS, however, is that competency and specialized knowledge of most businesses are concentrated in their main activities, not in auxiliary tasks. For the IDaas provider, however, the main business activity is nothing else but access management as such. Simply put: They know what they are doing.

For all those reasons we at Engity believe that for most businesses and for virtually all CIAM needs cloud-based access management is the best choice.