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DevOps / Operations

From IT to DevOps: Evolution of Privileged Access Management

Each PAM solution has its benefits and drawbacks, but there are three major considerations for DevOps teams.
Oct 30th, 2023 12:00pm by
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Privileged access management (PAM) has always been a critical aspect of ensuring the security and integrity of an organization’s most sensitive assets. Traditionally, this responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of information technology (IT) teams, who controlled and monitored access to sensitive resources. However, as more organizations migrate to the cloud, the complexities and challenges of managing privileged access have increased exponentially, and the stringent regulations surrounding data privacy and security have raised the stakes for access control.

DevOps teams, well-versed in the intricacies of their environments, became the obvious choice when handing down the responsibility of managing privileged access as they have a clear understanding of which resources they require and when they need them.

However, the challenge lay in translating this intuitive understanding into a practical and regulation-compliant solution. DevOps teams had to find a way to strike a balance between providing efficient access to resources for development and operational tasks while ensuring that the organization remained secure and compliant with regulations.

Two Options for DevOps Teams

DevOps teams seemingly have two options when considering how to manage privileged access: build a bespoke, in-house tool or adapt an existing legacy solution to align with their unique needs.

Creating an in-house tool offers unparalleled advantages in optimizing both user experience and security. This approach enables complete customization, ensuring that every permission request workflow is meticulously tailored and that resource integration reaches the precise level of granularity required to meet stringent security prerequisites. The result is a solution that harmonizes seamlessly with the organization’s specific demands.

However, this option demands significant labor and resources, often making it impractical for most organizations. Developing such a tool entails a substantial investment in development time on top of existing daily operational requirements.

Consequently, the alternative of adapting an existing solution frequently becomes the more pragmatic choice.

Rather than embarking on the task of creating a privileged access tool from scratch, DevOps teams can harness the existing capabilities of another solution and incorporate them into their workflows and resources. Nevertheless, these legacy solutions were not originally designed to meet the demands of modern DevOps environments. This adaptation may necessitate compromising on certain aspects, such as security, user experience and visibility.

The Three Factors to Consider When Evaluating PAM Solutions

Each PAM solution has its benefits and drawbacks, but there are three major considerations for DevOps teams.

  1. Granularity: Nearly every PAM provider provides access controls for identities and accounts, but their out-of-the-box offerings are typically less fine-grained when it comes to managing access to cloud, Kubernetes or databases. Whether through premium options or customization, granularity is an important aspect of compliance and usually a strict requirement.
  2. User experience: Adding little to no additional friction to end users is crucial to meeting productivity goals and deterring users from creative and dangerous shortcuts. Choose a solution that allows your team to keep working with their native tools and clients of choice.
  3. Unified control plane: Visibility is critical for both a compliance and security standpoint. While most PAM solutions won’t be able to give out-of-the-box visibility into infrastructure entitlement and access architecture, ensure that you can custom-fit this capability across your resources.

For a complete list of nine questions to ask any PAM vendor, check out this guide.

The Bottom Line

The transition of privileged access management from IT to DevOps reflects the dynamic nature of the modern IT landscape. DevOps teams are well-equipped to understand their resource needs, but the challenges of managing privileged access in complex, regulated environments are significant.

As organizations continue to evolve in the cloud era, it is essential to recognize the critical role that traditionally defined IT security solutions play for DevOps teams. The collaboration between DevOps and PAM solutions holds the key to a secure and agile future for privileged access management.

About Apono

Apono is a granular permission control solution that offers fine-grained access policies to cloud assets. Apono integrates directly with the specific service or resource type. This allows us to change the permissions at the resource level itself, for example a specific collection or table in your data repository instead of the entire cluster. Our solution allows for control of specific roles and permissions of each resource type and service from one central tool, bringing a unified privilege control plane to the admin, with workflows and audit capabilities on top.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Pragma.
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