What is our primary use case?
Our primary use case for ARS is for the ease of delegating administrative access and the ability to limit direct access to the domain controllers. Those were the primary purposes for purchasing it. We do much more with it now, probably more than anyone else.
We're still working through that primary use case. But in addition to that, over the course of the last seven years, we've been able to leverage ARS to allow us to do a lot more and be more efficient. We use it for dynamic groups. We automatically group users together by department, reporting structure, etc., to leverage them for access, authorization, and authentication. And we automatically group computer objects for management authorization.
We have also started leveraging ARS as an identity platform. It was an interim solution until we move over to our final solution, for which we're going through vendor selection right now. The way we use it for identity is that we use custom scripts and workflows and scheduled tasks. We were able to migrate off of our legacy identity platform and move everything we currently do into ARS.
While migrating to ARS, we also implemented role-based access for the administrative users and customized views for each role in ARS, in the web interface. So if you're a level-one support, you only see the tasks that you are allowed to do, versus if you're a full-blown administrator, you see everything.
In addition, we use it for account creation at the university. We expose native Azure AD user group properties to assist with support increase. We provision and de-provision applications, and we create the necessary reports.
How has it helped my organization?
We reduced the development cycle for modifications to code, which enabled us to easily integrate and onboard services, applications, and areas of the university that were not previously centralized. We just centralized Law, for instance.
We also have real-time alerting for failed tasks, which has reduced the troubleshooting tickets, user frustration, and allowed us to, in some cases, address the issue before it's even realized by the customer. In our previous system, if a task failed, we didn't know about it until the next day. Now, if a task fails, we're immediately notified by the system. That's how we're often able to clear it before the user ever even knows anything impacted them.
In addition, with the use of workflows and the scheduled tasks, we were able to automate and centrally manage a number of the processes as well as utilize them to work around other product limitations. Those include, but are not limited to syncing larger groups, which have 50,000-plus members, to Azure AD.
We sync up to Azure AD using ARS. If we had not already had ARS in place, it would have been impossible for us to have done so in the time period we did it in. We did it in under six months. If we had been migrating to a whole new platform, or an identity system, the way that things were, we would not have been able to do that in six months. ARS saved us. It was our bridge between an outdated solution, one that had not been matured. It gave us that time to breathe so that we could find the right solution for us. ARS won't go away, it will just stop doing the identity pieces. We will continue to use ARS.
ARS probably saves us at least two weeks out of every month. It's reduced our workload by 50 percent, easily.
We were able to introduce automated role-based provisioning for the first time, because we had ARS. We introduced role-based access. We introduced birthright access. Those had never been done before. We took ARS and turned it into an identity platform as our interim solution. That enabled us to eliminate Oracle Identity Manager completely. Per user, automated provisioning saves a couple of hours per week.
It has enabled staff to focus on more important IT initiatives. Because it is dependable, and because there aren't any issues with it, it allows the operational staff to also be development staff. A lot of our time has been freed up so that we can do things like interview vendors, come up with a logical strategy, and things of that nature. So ARS has certainly assisted in us being able to do that. We didn't reduce resources. Rather, time was freed up so that we could focus on more important things.
It also reduces risk because we use it to leverage dynamic groups, and with a dynamic group, if the person is no longer in the feed coming from the HR system, then that person is immediately and automatically removed from the group. We don't have to wait for a human being to go and look in every single group to see if that person is in there. It's a matter of internal best practice, ensuring that we meet the requirement to have least access.
What is most valuable?
With the use of the sync service we were able to import information from multiple external systems and populate them within our space and leverage them for downstream systems.
ARS also gives you a single pane of glass to manage AD and Azure AD. One of the things that we really like is that we can get to everything from ARS if we need to. So unless you are a system admin, there's no reason for you to go into Azure AD, because we have it set up so that everything syncs up with Azure AD. It gives us a level of confidence that things are matching from a governance perspective. We're trying to mature. I don't know that ARS will get us to our final destination, but it is helping us govern what we can see.
What needs improvement?
We would like to see
- extension of change-tracking auditing capabilities, especially in relationship to the virtual attributes
- more flexibility with group families
- integration with cloud database path solutions
- better integration with Azure AD; it integrates, but it could be better.
These are all things that our tech team has talked to their tech team about. And they're extremely responsive.
In addition, there are some features that we think should be included in their next release. We think these things would take them to the next level: the ability to completely force or limit any dynamic group processing to specific servers, change-tracking reporting of virtual attributes, and the ability to use files as inputs to automation workloads. These things have also been talked about. Knowing One Identity, they're probably working on them.
For how long have I used the solution?
We've been using One Identity Active Roles since around 2013.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Maintenance is standard and periodic. There may be a release or update that comes along, but other than that it's a very stable tool and doesn't require much maintenance at all. It's probably one of those grunt tools that most would typically consider ubiquitous. However, we think about it because we're using it for more than what it was intended to be used for.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We haven't had any problem at all, so far, with scalability. The only thing that we really saw was that syncing larger groups is a problem when we try to sync to Azure.
ARS went from just being our AD management tool to being our identity system, and it will continue to be that for the next 12 months. When we pick up and move the identity pieces out of ARS, it will remain the workhorse to keep all these things in sync.
We're pulling the identity components out because ARS is not an identity platform. It's not meant to be one. It's not robust enough to handle it all. If we continue to customize and build it out, we'd be building our own identity tool and that's not a good path to go down.
At last count we had around 50 users of ARS. They're either our middleware tech team, the CIS admins, including AD, Azure, etc., or it's our level-one support team. They use it to reset 2FA and to reset passwords. We built a custom interface for them.
How are customer service and technical support?
Excellent support. They truly are a partner. They want to be a partner, a collaborator. Their number-one goal is to solve people's problems, in the space of identity. That's really good.
In all of these years, we've never had any problems. As a matter of fact, they are very proactive and always reaching out saying to us, "How can we help? How can we help?" We've had excellent service from them.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We eliminated Oracle Identity Manager from our environment. Unfortunately, OIM was stood up about nine years ago but proved to require a lengthy life cycle to onboard applications and move to role-based provisioning, so we never moved beyond the first phase. We picked everything up out of that system and we created, if you will, a brand new ARS to handle everything that used to be in there. If OIM would choke, we would have to do constant reboots. We don't have any of that anymore now that we are in ARS. We haven't put a ticket in for a reboot in over a year, since we migrated.
We've been using ARS for our identity platform for a little over a year, and it was the right thing to do at the time. It could handle what we were doing, because what we're doing is actually very limited.
How was the initial setup?
I wasn't here for the initial setup in 2013, so I can't speak to that. I'm not part of the technical team that is in the process of doing the upgrade to 7.4.
But you can do deployment with two to three people. I know that from knowing the size of our team and who's doing it. If you've got two to three knowledgeable, skilled people, that's all it takes.
What was our ROI?
There has been return on investment in the time savings, although I can't put a number on it.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We looked into other options. The problem was that we needed to move quickly because OIM was out of maintenance. As a team we decided, "We have a tool here that can do this. We just need to make it do it". This provided the additional time we needed to decide on the right solution for access management and governance.
ARS is very clean and very easy to use. Sometimes, getting down to the level of detail that you need to see can be challenging, but its ease of use is comparable to any Microsoft tool or any other tool that's out there.
What other advice do I have?
If you're going to implement it out-of-the box, off-the-shelf, exactly as it's meant to be, you should be able to do it on your own. It's pretty straightforward. If you intend to do anything else with it, a good integrator is key.
The biggest lesson we've learned is that the flexibility and the extensibility of this platform allowed us to achieve far more efficiencies than we ever expected. What became the short-term certainly isn't going to be the long-term, but it proved credibility here, and that was what was really important. It gave us the credibility that we could do what we said we were going to do: take us off of a legacy tool that was broken, make things more efficient, and close the gaps until we could put in the full-blown solution.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?
Which version of this solution are you currently using?