Workspaces and Identity Management

workspace_and_identityElaborating on a point from a recently published blog, What’s a Workspace?

We like to think of this as a transformation from personal computing (PC), where a user was typically associated with a device, to PCS (productivity, communication, and security), where users are associated with a workspace that can be accessed from a variety of devices and locations.

The user should be at the nucleolus of a mobility strategy. In the past, we have really managed everything from a device perspective, but with the onslaught of businesses embracing mobility to enhance their employee productivity, the swing toward putting the user at the center of the workspace is upon us.

The shift from managing devices to managing workspaces requires a change in how application and data entitlement and access are managed. Now that every employee is using multiple devices for work, it’s no longer about imaging a machine with a corporate or group template. Employees even use friends’ devices to log in to web spaces and access corporate applications and information.

The world of consuming multiple applications across a variety of devices, password management nightmares, and corporate data landing inside consumer applications has quickly snuck up on us, creating a significant challenge for businesses. From an end-user usability perspective, remembering usernames and passwords (or more likely requesting a reset) can lead to applications that don’t get used as they should or, worse, they become vulnerable to security breaches. The problem is exponentially compounded as more applications, devices, and networks become part of a user’s workspace.

This is why identity and access management is receiving so much attention from IT vendors. The goal here, while simple in theory, has some potentially complex underpinnings. The idea is simple: a single username and password becomes an entitlement gateway for applications (SaaS, local installed, mobile), a workspace, a device, data, and communication/ collaboration services. Facebook currently does this with consumer (and actually some business) applications. A user enters her Facebook credentials for access to multiple applications, and the logon and access process is greatly simplified. The same concept holds true for a business environment. An employee uses a single set of credentials to gain access and IT sets policy based on the user’s role, device type, application, data, and network. Seems pretty simple, but having awareness and knowledge of all the interdependent pieces to this puzzle can be complex.

Identity and access management is ensuring the right people have the right access to a corporate workspace as well as simplifying IT management and end-user access. We expect this to be a top priority for IT vendors over the next 6-12 months. Without naming names in this blog, some vendors are big enough to tackle this one on their own and have the business productivity applications to piece together in this puzzle. Other IT vendors will have to partner and/or federate with existing solutions in the market. In either case, expect to see rapid innovation in this space and one theory to think through is that the IT vendor(s) that can capture the heart of the username and password as the core component to mobility initiatives and have an open ecosystem for multiple device types, operating systems, applications, file sync and share, and collaboration tools has a good chance of standing out in this market. Yes, coopetition will be fun to watch and factor into this equation.

Please keep posted with ESG as we release more research in this space in 2015. 

mobility spending trends