Real-life example of identity federation in action
Imagine there’s a new travel website you want to sign up for. Rather than creating a new account with the travel website, you see an option to login with Google. When you click this option, you’re briefly redirected to Google, which asks if you’re okay sharing your basic information with the website.
Once you agree, Google verifies your identity and the website lets you in without ever have to create a new username or password.
In this scenario, Google and the travel website have an agreement to trust each other's user verification. Google confirms who you are, and the game accepts this without making you go through another sign-up process. This seamless experience of using your Google credentials to access a new service is a practical example of how identity federation works.
The importance of identity federation in modern Identity and Access Management (IAM)
Identity Federation offers multiple key benefits for modern IAM:
- Single Sign-On (SSO): Users can log in once and gain access to multiple applications and services, eliminating the need for multiple usernames and passwords, enhancing user convenience and efficiency.
- Improved Security: By reducing the number of credentials required, identity federation minimizes the risk of password-related security breaches. It also ensures that authentication is handled by a trusted source, thereby enhancing overall security.
- Reduced IT Overhead: With fewer user credentials to manage, the burden on IT departments decreases. This leads to lower costs in managing user accounts and resets, reducing the likelihood of help desk calls for simple password issues.
- Enhanced User Experience: Users enjoy a smoother, more integrated experience across different services and platforms, leading to higher satisfaction and productivity.
- Regulatory Compliance: Identity federation can help organizations comply with data protection regulations by centralizing and standardizing user access controls and audit trails.
- Scalability and Flexibility: As businesses grow and technologies evolve, identity federation allows for easier integration with new applications and services.
- Reduced Credential Fatigue: Users are less likely to employ weak passwords or repeat the same passwords across services, as the need for multiple credentials is minimized.
- Interoperability Between Organizations: It facilitates seamless collaboration between different organizations or business units, enabling secure and efficient access to shared resources.
Identity federation in IAM streamlines access management across diverse platforms while bolstering security and improving both the user and administrative experience.
Adam Barngrover, Principal Solution Advisor