Many businesses today will say that they want to “go digital”, but the definition of exactly what that means can be quite broad. To get more specific, for example, we can examine how delivering a seamless user experience across digital channels offers new possibilities– from bringing customers closer to market to integrating employees with their corporate values. Whichever metric on which we choose to focus, what is very clear is that –

Digital acceleration is needed not only to operate business securely today, but also to enable the best outcomes for tomorrow and beyond.

Identity and access management are areas where “going digital” can really have a significant impact. Whether onboarding modern applications, modernizing infrastructure or any other industry-specific transformation such as open banking or digital front door, the enterprise identity and access management stack holds the crucial role of providing uninterrupted access to end-users and managing governance and compliance aspects. Legacy systems will slow you down; working on a legacy Identity & Access Management (IAM) platform as you advance can hold back your enterprise from delivering high-velocity digital initiatives in time and pose a serious threat to enterprise security.

Here are five motives that drive businesses to either upgrade the legacy IAM stack or rip and replace legacy IAM with the next-gen solution:

1. High TCO

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for identity and access management (IAM) is a function of IAM hardware footprint, support cost, affected outage cost, etc.

With legacy IAM, you could probably be spending a lot more on IAM support and administration. Moreover, as modern IAM solutions have better availability, they reduce outage costs. 

2. Feature gaps

Running a legacy IAM stack means not able to leverage modern IAM capabilities that can meet your requirements. Older IAM doesn’t focus much on providing an excellent user experience or empowering business users. For example, every time you want to change the password or access confidential data, IT must be involved.

3. High complexity of the operation

IAM platforms of old were focused on delivering functionalities that met older business models. Over the years, businesses kept doing customizations to IAM products, but with every new business requirement, the processes began to drift away from benchmarks.

4. High likelihood of a breach

Many businesses still rely on spreadsheets and homegrown IAM processes to onboard new employees, enable access to applications and manage privileged users. Legacy IAM platforms have a higher likelihood of breach as they allow rubber-stamping of access without business context, often providing excess privileges or access to users and failing to identify risk in time.

According to Forrester, “Costs of a data breach range anywhere from $1.25 million to $8.19 million.”

5. Slower digital initiatives

Legacy IAMs lack integrations to modern resources and applications, which causes custom coding delays and can slow down digital business initiatives. Common issues and concerns may involve: running manual reports around your GRC critical applications and privileged users, lack of documentation to show auditors how you responded to a violation detected, users complaining about poor user experience, and slow and expensive migration and upgrades.

When you modernize your legacy IAM, you enable best practices moving forward. IAM modernization is a concept beyond the ‘rip and replace’ approach. Depending upon your situation, you might need to upgrade your current IAM product version to meet the requirements.

Watch our video series on Identity & Access Management (IAM) and learn the considerations and proven approach for a successful IAM modernization.


Forrester Report, Making The Business Case For Identity And Access Management, December 4, 2020


Prateek Khanzode
Associate Strategist – Security,
Persistent Systems

Ankit Gupta
Director, Head of Security Solutions and Product Offerings at Persistent Systems