With so many acronyms in the identity management market, such as IAM, IdP, IDaaS, PIM, PAM, MFA, 2FA, and many more, each describing similar but distinct concepts and solutions, some clarity to the space is needed. Here we will compare IAM vs IdP, or Identity and Access Management (IAM) versus the Identity Provider (IdP).
The term Identity and Access Management, or IAM for short, describes the overall category of identity management solutions that are used to manage user identities and access to IT resources. The IAM category consists of a number of subcategories, including the IdP, Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS), Privileged Identity/Access Management (PIM/PAM), Multi-factor/Two-factor Authentication (MFA/2FA), and many more. Essentially, the term IAM can be used to describe any manner of identity management solution that manages user identities and their access to various IT resources. Now, with the concept of IAM understood, let’s take a closer look at the IdP subcategory.
What is an Identity Provider?
The term Identity Provider, abbreviated as IdP, refers to a subcategory of IAM solution that is focused on managing core user identities. Also known as directory services, the IdP acts as the source of truth for authenticating user identities. As such, the IdP is perhaps the most important subcategory of IAM solution because it often lays the foundation of an IT organization’s overall identity management infrastructure. In fact, other IAM categories and solutions, such as IDaaS, PIM/PAM, MFA/2FA, and others are often layered on top of the core IdP and serve to federate core user identities from the IdP to various endpoints. Therefore, your choice in IdP will have a profound influence on your overall IAM architecture.
For example, one of the most notable examples of an identity provider is Active Directory® (AD), Microsoft’s traditional on-prem IAM platform. AD came to market in the late 1990s, at a time when most IT networks were on-prem and based on the Windows® OS. The dominance of Windows OS, and the ubiquity of on-prem networks, effectively enabled IT organizations to manage users and access to IT resources from one centralized location via (Read more...)