Identity and Access Management (IAM) has been a core technology of most enterprise businesses for decades. Ever since an employee at a company could log into their desktop computer or access the company network and shared folders, IAM has been used to validate their identity and control their access to resources.
During this same time, developers have been building applications used by customers. Traditionally, developers always wrote their own identity and access management systems. These have included everything from login and registration to authorization and user management.
It’s quite interesting that companies have always turned to third-parties to manage their employees but have built security for their customers by hand. Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) is the new solution for companies to manage identity, access and security for their customers. Companies are now turning to trusted third-parties to help provide this core component for their customer facing applications.
While CIAM and IAM have many similarities, they also have many distinct differences. Their similarities include authentication, authorization and security. Their differences are better described using our comparison table below:
People often assume that CIAM solutions can’t be used for employee facing applications or applications that employees need access to. This isn’t the case. Many CIAM solutions integrate nicely with IAM solutions or can be used for newer employee applications. Many external applications are moving to OpenID Connect and JWTs to manage federated identity. If your CIAM solution supports these technologies it is likely that it can manager both customers and employees easily.