Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems provide core directory services, application access management, and authentication and authorization services. IAM also helps developers with a base platform to provide access control to their applications based on centralized policies and rules. IAM manages user details, authentication, and access information for an organization. The responsibility of user management and authentication creates a great dependency on IAM. If users aren’t able to access their applications, organizations may face huge financial losses.
Issues Faced by Applications in IAM Systems
Single sign-on (SSO) is one of the most used and valuable feature of IAM. Many applications support this feature. It is the entry point to the application and if the IAM system fails or is down, application users will not be able to log in. These types of losses can make a huge impact on organization’s business, even if the IAM fails for a very small amount of time. Any delays signing in to the application, due to slow performance, impacts the application’s performance.
Performance problems can occur anywhere — from the browser on a user’s computer or mobile device, across the Internet or a corporate WAN, or across third-parties and cloud providers – even to the infrastructure running inside data centers. Slow response times can be caused by various factors, like network delays, DNS problems and application wait times. Knowing that your IAM system is up and running is very crucial for organizations. The main metrics to monitor for determining performance of IAM systems include the following:
Sign-in access, performance, and availability. The applications within IAM systems rely on SSO, identity, access, and permissions. The performance metrics for the APIs needs to be monitored to keep in check with the availability.
OAuth registration, token serving, refresh, and availability. Various applications require OAuth registration and authentication to operate as per required. It should be ensured that the tokens are being generated and refreshed as per the requirement of the users.
There are tools within the IAM systems that can provide you all the metrics and details about the performance of the IAM system, however, these tools take an inside-out approach and just monitor the IAM system for its performance. What about the performance of the applications that reside within these IAM systems? How can you be sure that they are functioning and available.
As an organization, it’s always good to check from your side to ensure that all things are working smoothly as intended and no business applications are impacted. However, it’s more critical to take and outside-in approach to ensure that your applications are running 24/7 and available from all of your locations, and possible from where your users are located. And if there are issues, you can proactively set alerts based on performance thresholds and fix them before more users are impacted. This is where the importance of a synthetic monitoring solution is beneficial.
How Synthetic Monitoring Can Solve Application Performance Issues
Synthetic monitoring is the approach by which applications can be monitored by creating scripts that simulate users and their actions. These scripts can be then be uploaded for ongoing monitoring, to help provide information like uptime and performance, or ensuring that critical transactions, like a checkout process, can made by users with the applications.
Synthetic monitoring has been around for a long time, but as web application technologies have evolved, organizations have relied on them more to drive their business goals. Due to this nature, it’s critical to continuously monitor these web applications for availability and performance, and from different geographical locations.
When we use applications within IAM systems, the application uses APIs to connect with the identity providers and communicate with them through browsers. All the interactions between application and IAM can be recorded and analyzed using synthetic monitoring. The scripts and server calls can be run together at regular intervals, from a single allocated browser or multiple browsers from different geographical locations to get more information regarding performance and availability at a global level.
The Dotcom-Monitor Platform
The Dotcom-Monitor platform provides and supports the necessary tools and features to monitor the various web applications, and their authentication protocols, that organizations utilize today. The platform offers the ability to monitor OAuth-based APIs over HTTP/S, as well as provides a click and point scripting tool called the EveryStep Web Recorder. The recorder supports dynamic web application technologies and can easily script and simulate user paths, so they can be monitored for availability, functionality, and uptime. The following can be achieved using these features:
Quickly Identify Performance Issues: For applications that utilize IAM systems, the scripting tool can be vital for ensuring performance of a user’s journey. For example, when a user tries to logging in through SSO or the screen where OAuth token is sent by the IAM system. If anything goes anywhere in that process, you can be alerted immediately and minimize the impact to other users. Detailed reports are provided that can help to identify where the issues occurred, in addition to a video capture of the error, which can help the organization to act quickly on the solutions before other users face the same issues.
Validating SLAs: Along with performance monitoring and alerts Dotcom-Monitor can be used to validate the SLAs provided by the Identity Management Systems. Different IAMs claim their SLAs to be outstanding, but how can the organizations trust that? Simple answer – Dotcom-Monitor can do that for the organizations by providing detailed reports to show the exact availability of their applications and websites. Dotcom-Monitor is set-up to monitor and report on commitments that service providers make to customers. This can be used by the organization to provide a confidence score to the end customers or users which consume the application.
Alerts: You can create and configure custom notification groups with different types of alert mechanisms to receive alerts. Details can be checked and verified, and if something goes wrong, it can identify the situations beforehand and send alerts to individuals or teams to notify them about the upcoming problem. Alerts can be sent if the application goes down or if users fail to authenticate repeatedly.
IAM systems are great for providing a solution to help an organization manage their employees access, credentials, and details, but they lack the ability to ensure that all of the applications are performing as intended. As we have stated, issues can occur at any time and from anywhere, so it’s critical to pair your IAM system with a monitoring solution like Dotcom-Monitor. Try the full platform free for 30 days.