I think therefore IAM: It's not cool, it's not sexy, but it's one of the most important and difficult areas in modern IT

I think therefore IAM: It's not cool, it's not sexy, but it's one of the most important and difficult areas in modern IT

Feature A search on LinkedIn's UK job site just now (1 June 2021) returned 5,265 roles for a network manager; 2,204 for a system administrator; 4,964 for a web developer; and 10,776 for a business analyst. None of these are a particular surprise – they're popular, sought-after careers.


Oh, and there were 1,522 results for "Identity and Access Management" (IAM).


What do you want to be when you grow up?


When, as an IT student, you consider in which field you want to make a career, there are some common choices. Web developer, database administrator, software developer, system manager, network engineer... or more recently something in machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing or cybersecurity.


This is because they are the areas you are taught as a student. Examining the course details of 10 top UK universities' computer science courses reveals a high degree of commonality: systems development, web programming, database systems, data science, AI, cyber security, advanced networking, algorithms, data structures, cryptography, ML, graphics, the list goes on.


If you get the bug for, say, web development, at uni, a career as a web developer is going to be high on the list at graduation. And since not a single one of the universities this correspondent looked at has a course module covering IAM, there's little chance of us turning up at careers fairs desperate to talk to potential employers about access management.


Simple in the simple cases…


IAM is relatively simple in small, new organisations. This is because if we're starting from nothing, we can begin with a core directory service – generally Microsoft's Active Directory (AD) – and build everything with Single Sign-On (SSO). This means we can authenticate to AD either natively or via well-understood protocols such as Activ ..