In Cloud Identity, User Experience and Developers Are Now Taking Center Stage

Last week I attended the Cloud Identity Summit in Monterey, Calif., where Centrify was a Gold Sponsor.  Congrats to the team at Ping Identity for hosting a balanced and vendor neutral conference.  I’ve not been to an Identity conference for more than four years, and this reminded me of the great Burton Catalyst conferences that provided great insight into the world of Identity.

Cloud-Identity-1Something that really stuck out for me at the conference was all those little identities 🙂 I mean children! This is the first conference I’ve been to where it was a family event.  Next year, I will be sure to pull along my 2nd grader.  But seriously it was great to see that the conference balanced professional and personal lives in the same way our industry is trying to accommodate that with BYOD and BYOI.

The conference this year was titled “Modern Identity Revolution” — with the theme of moving away from legacy identity use cases where Mobile, Internet of Things, Cloud and SaaS are all competing for mind-share and causing disruption across multiple dimensions.  Identity is now critical to all of these industry shifts, with vendors like Centrify focused on the next generation of identity.

Some of the my key takeaways from the conference:

  1. Location, Location, Location — no — UI, UI, UI

    You know the old adage about real estate; well for Identity it’s all about UI, UI, UI.  For such a long time, the Identity space has focused on compliance and auditing, but it was clear that this is now changing.  In the past, we wanted “the Right People, to have the Right Access at the Right Time,” now that’s changed to “Right Experience, Right People and Things at the Right Time.” Identity is now being viewed as a business enabler, something that is needed to grow the business.  So it’s not surprising that user experience is center stage.  The word “friction” was used a lot.  I am very familiar with the word “friction” in my previous job in mobile payments.  Friction is the thing that stops consumers from buying, and now the identity space is focusing on reducing friction.

    Cloud-Identity-2Google spoke about OpenID Accountchooser.com, a very simple widget to remember your recent account on a device.  You probably use it already when you share your device at home.

    Along these lines, others spoke about authentication of users to enable fast login to an app, with subsequent “step-up authentication” when the user wishes to use a specific feature.  Also known as Continuous Authentication, this is not a new idea, but the concept of reducing fiction to get the user “in the door” is an important construct that we should be thinking about.

  2.  Rise of the developer

    The first two days of the conference were workshops, and there was a lot of focus on developers and how they can integrate with Identity Management.  It’s amazing to see this now, something I have written about before – “if we make it easy for developer…then beautiful things will happen!”

    The general consensus of the attendees was that standards are getting better, and developers are encouraged to use standards.  I am also a big supporter of standards, and have seen slow improvement in identity standards … but they are getting better, and I agree we need to use them, strengthen them, and provide feedback into the standard bodies if they don’t fit — proprietary is not the way to go.

    Cloud-Identity-3One thing that has not been solved for the developer is Mobile SSO.  Currently developers need to write to each Identity vendor’s APIs to implement SSO.  This can’t scale — more on this in the future.

  3. Scale

    Speaking of scaling … “Add some zeros to that number, and see if it works” — that was the consensus on scale.  With more and more apps going to the cloud, and everything connected to each other, setting up trust between systems will need identity solutions to mature.  There were a number of discussions about trust brokers that provide information about the other party.  These future changes in identity management will be necessary to support Internet of Things; otherwise we can’t scale to the use cases of the future.  I want Google Shopping to deliver my milk when it is finished in my fridge — seriously!

    Lots of other topics, but will save that for another time.  Overall a great conference, see you next year.