The troublesome issue of identity within the public sector

Grace Dolby, head of support and presales at Somerford Associates writes about how changing the way we manage and prove identity not only provides a better experience but also a more robust identity framework

Posted 7 February 2023 by Matt Stanley

Managing identities in any organisation can be difficult, but within the public sector it can become even more challenging due to the various constraints on resources, compliance requirements and the nature of the intertwined yet separate agencies. As various public sector organisations are looking to modernise their infrastructure with moves to Azure AD, Office 365, Cloud first strategies and expectations of the patients, citizens and partners using these services rising, identity is often one of the last points on a very long to do list.

By changing the approach to the way we manage and provide identity we can not only create a better and more robust identity framework but also provide a better experience for our colleagues and employees and third parties who may access our products and services. In our experience, by bringing the team(s) who manage identity into the conversation of any project from the start creates a more robust identity platform and an easier integration. Often, identity and authentication are added as an end piece of any project, which can create friction by creating identity silos and difficulty in administering, creating, updating and most importantly revoking access.

A Methodology for Simplifying Public Sector Identity

Leveraging the experience of your identity owners and first class technology such as Okta can enable you to fit a robust identity strategy and management platform into any and all of your projects. Okta allows you to have one centralised Universal Directory of all your internal users, external users, citizens, patients, partners and customers all with individualised and tightly controlled access to all of the end points, applications, file stores and services you provide. By automating the usually difficult and long winded starter-mover-leaver process, it heightens your security and saves hours in administration effort, allowing your IT team to focus on more critical issues. 

With many projects now wanting to create deep integrations between different services and in some cases different agencies, looking to implement an API first strategy is very common.

 “The issue is – a lot of legacy systems which may be in situ for a while, cannot necessarily support such integrations, and so having an identity platform such as Okta, that can integrate with legacy systems and support API first strategies can play a vital role in modernising services whilst not impacting existing services.” 

Whether you want to deploy a service-oriented architecture or a microservices based API infrastructure, Okta is able to support you in developing robust APIs that are secure and provide rate limits, throttling and security by being in line with the O.Auth 2.0 framework. 

By using a best of breed solution to your advantage that is completely flexible and agnostic to your vendor and infrastructure choices, you can modernise your identity strategy, resolve complexity and maintain security across legacy and modern infrastructure and applications. Having one central location to manage, create and update identities across all of your types of users, it not only allows you ease of management, but also provides users with a better experience long term. Of course, leveraging new and emerging technologies such as API integration, microservices, kubernetes for applications and more can allow you to adapt faster and flex to suit the needs of your users, with their identity seamlessly integrated across all platforms with one singular login. 

Author: Grace Dolby, Somerford Associates

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