One of the promises of the cloud is greater business agility. While that promise is largely true today, we shouldn’t take it for granted.
As markets mature, so do the strategies of vendors to create competitive differentiation and barriers to entry (and exit). One of those strategies is to ‘optimize’ for one’s own stack via proprietary integration while willingly or otherwise raising the bar on switching costs. While times change, the underlying concepts of competition bear a striking resemblance. We’ve seen this story before with enterprise software and enterprise stacks, and we’re likely going to see it play out once again in the cloud.
As more of our enterprise data and processes get codified in the cloud, it becomes more painful and more expensive to move. It’s no longer the sunk cost of hardware and perpetual software licenses that hold us hostage, but the cost of moving data and reconstructing integrations that hold us back.
This problem is made all the worse if enterprises do not demand, and vendors do not deliver on, open standards and API’s as the interface between their cloud services and the rest of the world.
If we’re not careful, the cloud could repeat history and simply become the latest version of proprietary silos where vendors optimize for their stack and give little more than lip service to interoperability.
The loosely coupled cloud is not exempt from history and cannot be taken for granted.
The irony of the cloud is that it’s success and the success of the vendors within it could be the beginning of the end of agility.
At Ping Identity, we believe that one of the most fundamental underpinnings of an agile and interoperable cloud is identity. We must not allow proprietary identity management schemas to propagate beyond a single domain.
Instead, we should adhere to open, proven and secure identity standards such as the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), OAuth, System for Cross-Domain Identity Management (SCIM) and the Extensible Access Control Markup Language (XACML) when enabling use cases such as Single Sign-On (SSO), user provisioning or authorization. Best practice in cloud computing is to eliminate silos and separate identity from applications, avoiding password propagation and purpose-built silos.
At Ping Identity, we help companies succeed by focusing on who the users are and what they should have access to, not on where the software runs, where the data resides or how the data is accessed. We do this by providing enterprises with the software they need to enable identity interoperability, whereby a user authenticated to one stack can seamlessly access applications in another stack, irrespective of whether or not the applications are on premises, in the Cloud, running in different datacenters, running in partner infrastructures, etc. etc.
As the Cloud continues its fast-paced growth, diverting from best practice and standardization cannot be allowed. Without this focus, sins of the past are repeated. Innovation is stifled. Enterprise infrastructure fossilizes and whole organizations become artifacts of a bygone era.
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