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Over 80% of global IT decision-makers have already adopted, or plan to adopt or expand cloud-based identity and access management initiatives over the next two years, a new study finds.

The study, “Identity and Access Management (IAM) for the Hybrid Enterprise,” conducted by Forrester Consulting for ForgeRock and Google Cloud, also found that the industry has significant opportunities to improve the IAM experience for the majority of hybrid cloud adopters.

Nearly 90% of those surveyed are held back from embracing IAM in the cloud because their current IAM offerings lack the stability, scalability or capabilities that their organizations need, according to Forrester. Organizations that are still running legacy systems have to modernize and address technical debt and internal business process challenges first, the firm said.

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While cloud adoption overall is increasing, investment and interest in hybrid cloud–using a combination of on-premises, public cloud and software as a service (SaaS)–is particularly high, according to the study. This suggests that IT leaders are realizing that hybrid cloud is a new reality for organizations and can be the quickest way to optimize their IT without disrupting business-critical applications, ForgeRock said.

As ecosystems and cloud adoption expand, security professionals are increasingly aware of siloed data environments and the blind spots in their cloud and IAM strategies, the company said.

In other findings, approximately three-quarters of the respondents, or 72%, have a cloud-based IAM, but nearly half said they don’t have key security practices in place, the study said. Further, almost all IT professionals at firms with IAM technologies face challenges meeting customer needs in a pure cloud environment, the study said.

For example:

  • 66% of respondents said that process issues, such as flexibility and agility of IAM systems and the ability of those systems to support hybrid cloud worlds, is impeding their adoption.

  • 88% of respondents said they find technology issues, such as limited IAM functionality, lack of product scalability and the inability to manage identity and access across current applications is preventing their adoption of IAM in the cloud.

  • 48% said that lack of cloud IAM expertise, or lack of support from leadership for cloud-based IAM adoption, is preventing them from making progress.

Hybrid IAM is a modern approach for the hybrid enterprise

Hybrid IAM is an IAM platform designed to enable large enterprises to run, unify and secure all digital identities within a hybrid IT architecture. Adopting a hybrid IAM approach can bridge the gap, ForgeRock said.

Additionally, more than 70% of respondents expect to see improved customer, employee and IT benefits from investments in hybrid IAM, the study said.

“As this first-of-its-kind research shows, while IT leaders are faced with unique criteria and conditions that shape their IT strategy, hybrid IAM has emerged as a necessity in helping them deliver simple and secure employee and customer experiences,” said Peter Barker, chief product officer at ForgeRock, in a statement.

By leveraging a comprehensive hybrid IAM platform, organizations can enable seamless user access across multichannel applications, whether they are running applications on-premises, in the private cloud, or on one or more public clouds, according to ForgeRock. A hybrid IAM platform also solves the need for multiple point solutions while addressing key focal points for IT decision-makers.

Infrastructure modernization, cloud strategy and consolidation topped decision makers lists, the study said.

As businesses continue to evolve, ForgeRock said organizations with the accelerated adoption of hybrid IAM will have an important competitive advantage, enabling enterprises to support existing business-critical applications on-premises while also transforming and adopting cloud. Having identity at the center of this transformation ensures the future of access is safe and simple, the study said.

“The future isn’t just cloud, it’s hybrid cloud,” said Hamidou Dia, vice president, global head of solutions engineering, at Google Cloud, in a statement. “This approach gives companies the ability to reimagine their business and modernize faster, and IAM needs to be at the center to ensure the future is both frictionless and secure.”

Forrester Consulting said it surveyed more than 300 IT executives globally on the state of cloud adoption.