Key considerations for building vs. buying identity access management solutions

Key considerations for building vs. buying identity access management solutions

Time and time again, organizations learn the hard way that no matter which security solutions they have in place, if they haven’t properly secured the end user, their efforts can be easily rendered moot.

The classic slip-up most often associated with end-user-turned-insider-threat is falling for a phishing email that in turn infects the endpoint. Now imagine that end user is someone with access to highly-sensitive information.

In a recently released report, Forrester noted that 80 percent of data breaches are related to compromised privileged credentials, highlighting the need for secure identity and access management (IAM).

IAM is a framework of policies and technologies that ensure that the proper people in an enterprise have the appropriate access to resources. Identity and access management products provide IT managers with the tools necessary to control user access to critical information within an organization, whether that’s employees or customers. IAM tools help define and manage the roles and access privileges of individual network users, as well as the circumstances in which users are granted (or denied) those privileges.

Therefore, having a strong identity and access management solution is critical to the security of your organization. It ensures that the right people have access to your system—and keeps unauthorized users out.

When it comes to an IAM solution, organizations have two basic options: build it or buy it. How do you know which option is the right one for your business? Here are the factors you need to consider.

Risk mitigation

When deciding between building and buying an access management solution, the first step is to assess the company’s cybersecurity needs and potential risks. A good question to ask is: What’s at stake if your organization is compromised or breached? Are you in a field that regularly manages private or sensitive proprietary data, such as genetic research or wealth portfolio management? Do you store large databases of customers’ personally identifiable information (PII)? Consider what the consequences would be if an unauthorized person gained access to your system.

Once you’ve assessed the company’s risk, consider whether your development team could build in the security safeguards needed to manage those risks. If you have especially complex or demanding security needs, building the necessary protections into your existing system will be more difficult.

If your in-house engineering team does not have security experience, consider partnering with third parties for security testing, audits, and other services. Having a trusted third party look at your system can help ensure your security measures are sufficient.

Another factor to consider is whether you partner with any other third parties, such as software-as-a-service providers, that enable features within your system. If so, you’ll need to assess the security aspects of these third parties as well and whether they could better integrate with a homemade or other third-party solution.

Capabilities and available resources

Even if your development staff is skilled, keep in mind that building an access management solution requires a specific skill set. Evaluate the skills, knowledge, and background of your current team members and consider whether you would need to hire additional staff to complete the build.

Building your own solution will also take a considerable amount of time. Do you have enough development resources for this project? Even if you do, think about whether building an IAM solution is the most high-value task your team could be working on. There may be other more profitable projects you may want to prioritize, especially because so many pre-built solutions are available.

Remember, too, that building your solution won’t be a one-time investment. You’ll also have to dedicate time and resources to maintaining and updating your system.

The best option for your organization depends in part on which resource you have more of—time or money. If you have funding but not time, a pre-built solution is likely best. If your situation is reversed, building your own solution may save you money, providing you have the capabilities needed to build an adequate program.

Complexity of the solution

The complexity of the solution you need will also influence whether or not it’s possible to build your own with the resources and capabilities you have. If you only have one or two simple applications and a small number of users, you may be able to build a system on your own relatively easily.

If, however, your system includes large numbers of applications and users with a wide range of necessary privileges, building and maintaining an access management solution will be more challenging.

Also, consider the potential that your company might expand the number of applications or users in the near future. Is your company likely to grow substantially within the next few years? If it does, can your custom-built solution scale? Can a third-party solution do the same?

Third-party verification needs

Another consideration is the possible need for third-party verification, industry standards compliance, and regulatory compliance. You might be subject to certain rules based on your sector, location, or the type of data you handle. Ensuring you comply with these requirements adds an extra layer of complication to building or buying a solution.

Pre-built systems, however, may already comply with the necessary standards. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of all compliance requirements that impact you before you begin building a solution or looking for one to purchase.

Time-to-market needs

How quickly does your access management solution need to be up and running? If it’s a matter of security, that timeframe might be significantly shorter.

Building an access management solution is a time-intensive process, so if you need your solution to be ready quickly, this is not the best option. Purchasing a pre-built solution will enable you to roll out your new access management solution much more quickly than building one on your own would.

To build or to buy

Your identity and access management solution will be an important component for the security and accessibility of your system, both for employees and customers. It’s crucial that you employ a solution that adequately meets your organization’s needs. That’s why choosing between building and buying an access management solution is such an important decision.

To ensure you choose the right option, make sure you ask the right questions when evaluating the needs of your organization.


Kayla Matthews

Tech journalist covering AI, the IoT, and cybersecurity. In addition to being a senior writer for MakeUseOf, Kayla is a regular contributor at Digital Trends, The Next Web, VentureBeat and TechnoBuffalo.