Because IDaaS can bleed your organisation dry of knowledge and experience, the risk is you will go from being a smart customer of bad platforms to a dumb customer of even worse ones.
Right now IDaaS is a really good idea and a really nasty trap. A big-metal-teeth and pointy-sticks-in-the-pit trap.
The whole idea of identity in the cloud invites organisations to take a wrong turn at Albuquerque and become shoppers instead of producers.
There are advantages and opportunities to outsourcing some of the technology and some discrete services. But digital identity services aren’t a single thing that you can just hand over to someone else.
Identity services are platform services. Which means a few very important things,
- Other service will depend on them. They are legacy generators of the first order.
- Identity services have not commodified. The stuff out there does not have what economists call cross elasticity of demand. One thing is most definitely not like the other and the costs of switching brands is high.
- Vendors will use platform lock-ins to protect themselves from competitive innovations while sucking all the $$$ they can from you. You will find yourself paying them every time you want to use your own data.
- Everything you do to enhance the value of the platform – mostly business integration and user experience – will make you more dependent on your platform vendor.
There are a few simple things to keep in mind when acquiring platforms (or platform services):
- Platforms are not consumer goods. You use them to make things.
- Bad (insanely profitable) platforms use IP law to make sure you pay rent on everything you build on them. They are cost multipliers.
- Good platforms are built on commodified tools that keeps the market competitive and discourages rent-seeking multipliers.
Unless you are really and truly an SME then you will be an identity service producer. The bulk of your spend will not be on end-user services (self-service password resets for example), but on platform services that other systems will use. The bulk of your benefit will come from producing back-end services well and utilising them to enable organisational objectives.
Now on-site big-suite IAM vendors have been plaguing as with bad platforms for, well, ever. The real problem is that most IDaaS vendors are looking to compete with the traditional players by stealing their end-to-end we-do-it-all product philosophy. That is, by selling platforms.
In many cases they are worse. Because now they can put a meter on everything. And because they will bleed your organisation dry of knowledge and experience the risk is that you will go from being a smart customer of bad platforms to a dumb customer of even worse ones.
My point – use services to build your platform. Select commodified services where ever possible.
If you acquire IDaaS like you shop for a fridge….