IAM Jazzed for IAM Pulse


IAM Jazzed for IAM Pulse

Ivan Dwyer
Ivan Dwyer
Founder at IAM Pulse
Sep 14, 2021

If you rolled your eyes at that IAM pun, let me tell you... we’re just getting started. I mean that in a literal sense too – I’m excited to introduce a new team working on something fresh to help cloud practitioners wrangle and rightsize those pesky IAM policies. Get to know IAM Pulse.

Anyone who has ever carried the responsibility of availability, resilience, performance, or security of a production cloud environment has undoubtedly faced the mounting IAM challenge. Those who emerge unscathed have tales to tell – of the horrors faced and the heroic tasks.

Let me tell you about our tale, and the heroic journey we’re about to embark on...

origin/okta → origin/oktax

Our team has come together from various walks of life, but one thing that is consistent is that we all work for Okta. IAM Pulse is a dedicated project team working independently of the main organization through an internal startup program called OktaX. Personally, I joined Okta just over 3 years ago via the ScaleFT acquisition. At that time, we were early in the Zero Trust space focused on infrastructure access, and caught the eye of many for our clever technical approach to SSH auth, and our community efforts promoting Google's BeyondCorp. Some members of this team have the same ScaleFT background, others are joining fresh – but we're all in this together as team IAM Pulse.

Our project started just a few months back, and we’re now here as an improvising team to present our first act – the IAM Pulse Community, a place for cloud practitioners to share, consume, and discuss IAM best practices.

Why the focus on IAM?

IAM as an authentication service is fairly well understood. Not perfect by any means, but understood enough. IAM as a configuration service is... ehh, not so much. The specifications so incredibly complex and proprietary across each of the major cloud providers that it would take a Ph.D to get one right, forget even trying for two or three. But more importantly is the size and scope of the surface area. IAM is the single service that touches everything – all of the people, all of the resources, and all of the data. And in the cloud, everything is changing constantly. Nobody wants to get IAM wrong, but few have the time and energy to get IAM right.

The industry term that everyone strives for – vendors, analysts, leaders, and practitioners alike – is least privilege. Unlike Chotchkie's (Office Space references are a plenty here just like our puns), the bare minimum is actually encouraged here. But the feeling that is so highly sought after is confidence. Confidence in the people, process, and technology that make up the entire software development lifecycle. With confidence, the business thrives in its ability to deliver customer delight. Without confidence, the constant pressure of a data breach lingers. Just like in the real world, confidence levels in cloud security vary, and can be impacted in a number of ways at any given moment.

With any complex domain, there’s two ways to gain confidence – learn it in and out, or make it simple and accessible. I applaud anyone who aims for the former, but our approach is the latter. The outcome of our success will bring confidence to an area that greatly needs it, for people who greatly deserve it.

Why the community first?

Of the many learnings in helping customers of all kinds and sizes implement practical Zero Trust technologies over the years, the most notable for me has been the human aspect of things – as-in getting to know cross-functional teams working together to streamline the speedy delivery of software at scale without compromising on security. No easy task by any means, but I’ve had the privilege of watching incredible people face the challenge head on, and have developed a healthy amount of respect and sense of empathy towards those who carry such huge responsibility.

In looking at the IAM domain, there’s a growing challenge for this very group of people that only compounds at scale – cloud adoption is outpacing cloud security. We’re not alarmists here, this is a known fact, but it’s our fundamental belief that the challenge is as much of a knowledge gap as it is a technical gap. Without a clear understanding of the underlying principles of IAM, the tooling won’t save you. But again, with such a complex topic, who has the time and energy to become an expert?

Well, as they say, a rising tide lifts all ships, so the spirit of our community is to drive collective intelligence through shared learning experiences. In practical terms, our community program will organize content, discussions, and resources dedicated to the IAM space. Along the way, we’ll build up a healthy catalog of usable best practices for all types of cloud environments, and bring together a group of practitioners who want to connect with their peers in creative, fun, and engaging ways. Our primary role in this is to facilitate and curate, keeping the focus on the cloud practice itself – you are the community, and we want to hear your tales.

We encourage you to take a poke around the site to get a feel for the content and people this community is all about. If this seems up your alley, apply for membership here.

What’s your next act?

We're a product team as well, very much in discovery mode. When the surface area is as vast as IAM, and the challenges rear their ugly head in a variety of ways from a near infinite number of angles, it’s critical to get educated on as many perspectives as possible. Our team is in favor of building opinionated software, however those opinions should come from you, not just us.

As we facilitate community programs, we will be listening. The intended outcome is clear – make IAM simple and accessible for everyone involved in the software development lifecycle. How we get there is our heroic journey that we're just getting started on. Join us in the community, and watch us build in public – it's going to be quite the ride!

Want to get involved?

  • Meet the team – we're a small, but growing group of folks working together to build up the community and a fresh product.
  • Check out our open jobs – did I mention that we’re growing? Yes, I did, but check out our open roles. Joining IAM Pulse gives you the best of both worlds – the stability and support of a large organization, with the freedom and flexibility of a startup. We’d love to chat!
  • Browse the catalog – our members are contributing incredibly helpful content across a wide range of environments. Follow topics you want to learn more about.
  • Subscribe to our newsletter – we put together a weekly digest of articles, posts, and more in a short and sweet format that your inbox will actually like.
  • Apply to become a member – we welcome folks from all backgrounds and experience levels to participate and contribute.

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