How do you determine which customer identity and access management (CIAM) solution vendor is right for your organization? CIAM is evolving, and many vendors are claiming a stake in the market. Gartner counted at least 14 solution providers by the end of 2015, so it's easy to see how the selection process can get murky.
When evaluating vendors, there are the obvious considerations, such as experience, financial viability and customer references, but selecting a CIAM vendor also requires a deep dive into the solution's purpose, its capabilities and future direction. If you ask Gartner, here are five questions you should consider:
1. How complete is the solution?
In this maturing market, many CIAM solutions are not full-featured. Rather than deliver pre-configured solutions, for instance, many vendors offer APIs and software development kits (SDKs) that allow organizations to build their own CIAM solutions. Even though this approach is desirable for some, other organizations may find the amount of custom development required to be overwhelming.
2. Does the vendor support IDaaS and on-premises solutions?
Most vendors offer their CIAM software as a service in the cloud, but some organizations in highly regulated industries are still more comfortable with an on-premises solution. A few vendors (including Ping Identity) have both single-instance and IDaaS-based offerings.
3. Will the vendor implement the solution?
Dig deep into vendors' identity management implementation experience. Will the vendor implement the solution? Will you need to hire a team of experts to maintain the solution long term? If the vendor doesn't have the resources you need for implementation, do they have a strong partner ecosystem to help you? Consult with trusted peer groups (not marketing hype) to find the best IT pros to work with your team.
4. Can the vendor scale to meet your growing customer needs?
As your customer volume grows, scale becomes so important in a CIAM system. The solution should be able to scale for millions of customers across every channel. At the same time, the solution should seamlessly integrate with all channels to deliver a consistent and positive end-to-end customer experience.
Vendors differ in their experience in supporting scale. Nine of the 14 vendors identified by Gartner said they can support customers with more than 15 million consumer users. Ping Identity is in that list.
5. Does the vendor share your organization's vision and future business goals?
The vendor should view your engagement as a partnership where they have a vested interest in your long-term success. Taking a broader view, where does the vendor sit on future-thinking initiatives and the evolving standards needed to support them? Are they active participants in standards bodies that are working to meet evolving needs in securing identity today and in the future?