Identity Management Is Here to Stay

Opinion: Digital identity management, now a necessity due to compliance regulations, will only grow in importance next year, and the Burton Group's June conference is a great place to get some tips.

Information about the Burton Groups June conference will become available in January, and IT managers who are serious about cutting user provisioning costs should put the San Francisco conference on their June calendars.

Digital identity management, already a hot topic in 2005 because of regulatory requirements contained in SOX, HIPAA and GLB legislation, will only grow in importance in 2006.

While the regulations have focused executive-suite interest on identity, Im hoping that gatherings like Burtons Catalyst and Digital ID World, slated to be held in Santa Clara in May, will culture ideas about how to improve IT productivity through smart use of identity management products.

Identity management will come into even greater prominence in 2006 as recognition spreads that identity management is nearly impossible to outsource. As the old saw goes, "you can delegate authority, but not responsibility."

/zimages/6/28571.gifHow to avert an identity crisis. Click here to read more.

Deciding what information must be guarded like Fort Knox, and what data just needs username/password protection, simply doesnt fall into the category of decisions that can be made by a contractor.

And because identity management cant (or shouldnt) be outsourced, the regulatory compliance and audit costs associated with managing user identity are solidly tied to the IT organization.

The good news for IT managers is that 2005 saw an increased interest by current identity management providers including Sun, Passlogix and Novell, among many others, in improved reporting.

Better reporting, much of it focused on demonstrating process integrity and separation of duties, translates into lowered auditing costs.

At the same time, improvements in identity products that I saw in eWEEK Labs over the past year also mean that even though more is asked of IT by regulators and auditors, there doesnt necessarily need to be an increase in costs.

But controlling costs is where strategic planning comes into play, and that brings me back to Catalyst.

/zimages/6/28571.gifHP picks up identity management wares, loses top exec. Click here to read more.

Buying into an identity management product suite or platform is like buying luxury jewelry: You can spend as much as you want. But the key is to spend as little as possible while still maintaining control of data access.

This is the ultimate goal of identity management. Ive found Catalyst to be a good place to get first-hand implementation stories combined with a fair analysis of the challenges and products.

So, as you put together your 2006 education and professional development budget, include a line for Catalyst.

Labs Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at