Essentials of enterprise identity management

Security, efficiency and a great user experience can all be yours with enterprise identity management tools and practices.

June 17 2024 by

Haddayr Copley-Woods

A person holds up their thumb; their thumbprint glows and is connected to an iPhone, MacBook, iPad and antivirus shield.

What is Enterprise Identity Management?

Enterprise Identity Management (EIM), or Enterprise Identity and Access Management (IAM), is how organizations create, verify, store, and use staff (and sometimes customer) digital identities. Through this, enterprise companies securely manage devices and access to sensitive data across the entire organization.

A unified Enterprise IAM approach is vital in a modern digital landscape in which not only are employees often working outside of the physical office, but also in which bad actors are well-funded, sophisticated and relentless. To truly have a unified enterprise identity and access management strategy, organizations must review and re-create policies and processes that will enable them to use a central system to produce and manage digital identities.

Depending on your organization, this might take some doing. Legacy organizations often have a siloed approach to identity management; some areas might have username/password combinations, some a physical passkey; some may have inadequate safeguards in place. However secure or insecure, each area of the organization has its own approach.

It’s worth the work. Very few organizations have a physical perimeter and firewall as more people work from home, during business travel or from far-flung offices. To ensure the entire organization is secure, businesses must centralize and secure EIM with modern security methods and software.

The fundamentals of Enterprise IAM

For an organization to implement an enterprise identity management strategy that can be used properly to control and secure access to company data and files, you will need the following core components:

User authentication

User authentication proves who a person is.

“User authentication” refers to the processes and tools ensuring that a business’s access system verifies the identity of every user before they are allowed access to the devices, network or data that can leave an organization open to tampering.

There are a variety of ways to create identity profiles that companies use for identity and access management. One of the most used is an identity provider (IdP) and Single Sign-on provider (SSO). These vendors store and manage users' digital identities and allow access to everything employees need to perform their duties including data, networks apps and devices with a single logon.

Well-known vendors in this area include:

  • Okta
  • Auth0
  • OneLogin
  • Microsoft Entra ID (formerly Azure)
  • Google Workspace


Authorization defines what each user can access, and what they can do.

Identity providers are an important part of authorization, too. Working with an IdP, organizations can set what authorization they’d like (certificates, smart cards, or other security methods). To further manage what authorized users can do, IT should work with a Mobile Device Management (MDM) provider to create limits and permissions to specific apps, data and areas of the network. Using a provider such as Jamf Pro with customizable policies and Smart Groups will allow an organization the most flexibility, level of detail and automation for this process.

User lifecycle management

A typical user account management lifecycle:

  • Onboarding gets new staff set up with ID, devices, apps and access. You’ll want to choose a vendor that offers automated onboarding workflows as well as the best user experience for new hires.
  • Management controls, updates and secures individuals, devices and apps. Ensure that your vendor embeds security measures directly into management with automated updates and patches, same-day support and tight integrations with cybersecurity tools.
  • Offboarding deactivates ID permissions and access when an employee is no longer with the company. At this stage of the user lifecycle, you’ll want to ensure that your vendor has the capability of swiftly shutting down access and wiping devices for use by other staff.

Benefits of EIM in the enterprise

The two main benefits of a unified identity management and access approach are the added security enhancements and the exceptional operational efficiency organizations using modern management enjoy.

Combining identity, access, management and security into one holistic and complete solution makes it much, much harder for bad actors to find a way to sneak into a company’s network, or to infect that network with malware.

An EIM approach also creates operational efficiencies at nearly every layer of your stack as well as workflows by automating a large portion of processes and updates. And these efficiencies are increased even more if you use a vendor that offers declarative device management: a modality that is faster, safer and uses far less bandwidth.

Challenges for EIM

While the benefits of EIM are powerful, there are a number of possible issues you will need to consider.

  • Proper integration of multiple services: if you choose to manage multiple vendors at one time, you will need to thoroughly test how they integrate together to ensure that you have the most secure and manageable system possible. Choosing a single vendor, of course, can eliminate many of these headaches.
  • Scalability and flexibility: you will also need to ensure that all vendors (or your single vendor) offer scalability and flexibility as your business grows and changes over the years. Can your management and security grow as you grow? Can it adapt to changing strategy, organizational approaches and departments?

What is an enterprise identity management system?

An enterprise identity management system is software that helps large organizations manage all of the moving parts involved in modern management. It supports both remote and in-office employees, manages an evolving workforce and business practices, and secures users, networks and data.

Choosing a single vendor for your Enterprise IAM tightly interlaces all aspects of modern management without IT needing to juggle different aspects. It embeds cybersecurity into every part of its management and security, and it saves organizations money otherwise spent on shoring up incomplete solutions with one-off software.

The best part of a holistic and rich enterprise identity management system is this continual integration of all aspects. Here at Jamf, we call that Trusted Access. Part of what makes Jamf the gold standard in Apple MDM and Apple endpoint protection is this deep, wide and interlocking coverage.

With proper planning and the right tools, the future doesn’t have to be a frightening prospect: you’ll know you’re ready for whatever comes.

Discover more about EIM