Challenges in the Path to IAM Modernization for Cloud Applications

IAM Modernization is the process of updating existing identity and access management (IAM) systems to meet the changing needs of an organization. It involves a range of challenges, from enhancing security and compliance to streamlining user experience and more.

There is a palpable struggle among organizations globally in modernizing their identity and access management (IAM) with cloud-based platforms. This can be attributed in part to the growing cost of operations and maintenance of legacy IAM systems. These legacy systems inhibit workplace productivity for both business users as well as the IT and security staff.

However, this has translated into growing trust in the implementation of the Identity-as-a-service (IDaaS). And this is a prevalent scenario for most organizations around the world. According to a study by Forrester, IDaaS will grow at approximately 15% CAGR through 2023, as an increasing number of businesses seek the leverage of cloud computing.

Key Challenges to Modernizing IAM

Modernization of an IAM program is a complicated process for businesses of all sizes. Untangling the mess of debts from customizations and maintenance to run on-premises deployed solutions needs some heavy lifting while migrating to a modern platform. For this, the organizations must ensure their users get seamless access to the right resources for the right reasons at the right time. Below are some of the challenges encountered in the path to modernizing IAM.

Gaps in the Strategy

An IAM platform modernization needs a road map and strategy that involve an optimal deployment model and architecture for an organization’s cloud applications. Understanding how the program aligns with the business objectives is the primary step while considering applicable compliances and the way they factor into the strategy. Business users demand quick and facilitated access to resources.

However, moving away from the legacy systems to the cloud while managing access to applications and data in the new cloud platform is a challenging task. The roadmap and strategy must bond with an end-to-end tactic for migrating and managing workloads of IAM from legacy systems to the cloud.

Inefficient Cooperation with Business Stakeholders

An organization’s stakeholders must completely align for establishing a decree on their strategy. This includes business managers and IT executives. Understanding the interests and priorities of stakeholders throughout the modernization project is crucially essential. It is imperative that organizations understand the needs of their team members, technology and process involved in accomplishing the said objectives and outcomes. Also, on an ongoing basis, ensuring that stakeholders understand the IAM modernization’s business benefits is indispensable.

Absence of Skilled Resources

Maintaining the tools and several point solutions in a legacy system is an expensive task and burdensome too. Resources are increasingly overwhelmed while managing help desk requests, changes to access rights, password resets and user onboarding & offboarding. To upkeep legacy, IAM applications are time-intensive, which leads organizations to explore the cloud-based system. However, managing the modern cloud-native AIM system needs extensive training and enablement on relevant processes.

Legacy Systems

Many organizations have legacy IAM systems that were implemented years ago and are now outdated. These systems may not be able to keep up with modern threats and may not be compatible with newer technologies such as cloud computing. Updating these legacy systems can be a significant challenge, as it may require a complete overhaul of the IAM infrastructure.

Integration with New Technologies

As organizations adopt new technologies, such as cloud computing and mobile devices, their IAM systems must be able to integrate with these new technologies. This can be a challenge, as many legacy IAM systems were not designed with these new technologies in mind. Organizations must ensure that their IAM systems can integrate seamlessly with these new technologies to maintain a strong security posture.

User Experience

IAM systems must strike a balance between security and usability. A system that is too cumbersome and difficult to use may lead to users circumventing security measures, which can increase the risk of a data breach. However, a system that is too easy to use may not provide adequate security. Modern IAM systems must provide a user-friendly experience while maintaining a strong security posture.


Modern IAM systems are becoming increasingly complex. They may involve multiple authentication factors, such as biometrics and smart cards, as well as policies and rules to manage access to sensitive data. Managing these systems can be a challenge, particularly for organizations with limited resources.

Data Governance

IAM systems are responsible for managing access to sensitive data, which means they must also address data governance issues. This includes ensuring that data is classified appropriately and that access to data is based on business needs. Organizations must ensure that their IAM systems are designed to support data governance policies and procedures.

In conclusion, IAM modernization is essential for organizations to keep up with changing threats and business needs. However, modernizing IAM systems comes with its challenges, including legacy systems, integration with new technologies, user experience, complexity, and data governance. Organizations must address these challenges to ensure that their IAM systems remain effective in protecting sensitive data and systems from unauthorized access.

How to Address These Challenges?

Addressing the aforementioned challenges while acquiring necessary skills and knowledge for a successful transition to the modern, cloud-native IAM solution is making organizations approach professional service providers. These services help organizations in migrating away from legacy systems to the cloud. Most organizations are making significant investments in building new, modernized IAM platforms to meet the digital transformation requirements. This, as well as to acquire new skills, insights, and experiences that are designed for business growth.

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Pratyaksha Rawal

Pratyaksha Rawal

Pratyaksha Rawal heads development at Cloudlytics. An accomplished backend lead, she is certified in AWS and Azure, she has a deep grasp of all things cloud.


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