How Identity and Access Management Expedites Popular Cloud Modernization Strategies

In the decades since “cloud computing” first achieved buzzword status, its benefits have been widely proven. And now that the shift to both dynamic work environments and digitized customer experiences has rapidly accelerated, migrating these applications to the cloud is more important than ever.

  • Published: 10-05-2022

  • Related Category: IAM - Identity Access Management

  • Type of Content: Articles

  • Owner: Okta

Evolving drivers of cloud adoption

The current crisis has amplified the need for enterprises to become more digitally adept...
Digital technologies and approaches are designed not just to allow for remote engagement and operations.
They can also change revenue and cost structures and enhance products and services.”
— Gartner, “Identifying Digital Opportunities During and After the Pandemic,” June 2, 2020

The new normal requires flexible workforces that can work from anywhere and help organizations quickly scale up or down as supply and demand fluctuate. Additionally, external customer-facing applications must provide frictionless experiences across channels that enrich—rather than hinder—the customer journey. In this way, businesses can encourage customer engagement and create new revenue opportunities, as well as secure the employee experience and build trust.

Popular strategies for cloud migration

In many cases, digital transformation starts with migrating on-premises applications to the cloud. As technology leaders review their app portfolios, determine how to address myriad demands, and work to reduce capital expenses (CapEx) along the way, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The best cloud strategy for each app depends on your business’ IT budget, timing, and the individual app’s criticality. For workforce apps, this is driven by how well they support remote, dynamic, and mobile work requirements with security that works everywhere (and not only in the office network perimeter). With customer applications, most cloud migrations are motivated by the need to deploy and scale personalized, relevant, cohesive omni-channel experiences that help grow and retain revenue.

No matter which of these many pressures are pushing your organization to modernize its on-prem ecosystem, there are several methodologies that can help you make the right choices. Experts at Gartner and Amazon Web Services recommend that technology leaders consider some, or all, of the following approaches.

1. Rehost

Often, technology teams employ a “lift-and-shift” strategy to speed legacy migration. In this scenario, you’re simply moving an application’s workloads to run in the cloud without optimization.

2. Revise

For some apps, you might want to update certain components (i.e. load balancers, databases, certification management, or zero trust network access tools) by leveraging managed services while retaining the app’s core source code. This is also known as “lift-tinker-and-shift,” since it employs a more cloud-aware approach.

3. Rearchitect

In this case, teams materially redesign an on-prem app’s underlying architecture to fully embrace cloud-optimized techniques for scale, business continuity, performance, and time-to-market improvements. However, the effort involves in-depth changes to your application before you can rehost it in the cloud.

According to Gartner, 75% of organizations today plan to rearchitect their custom-built applications for the cloud.

4. Rebuild

A rebuild strategy means starting over from scratch to re-code your highest priority business-critical systems. This allows you to write off technical debt and convert outdated tools into cloud-native applications.

5. Replace

For many older apps (whether commercial off-the-shelf or homegrown), your best bet is to replace them with cloud-first SaaS services. These usually include best-of-breed solutions like Salesforce for CRM, Workday for HR, or perhaps Okta for identity and access management (IAM).

6. Retain

Of course, there may be some on-prem applications in your digital portfolio that you need to leave as is—either for the short term until later phases of an overall app retirement strategy, or for the long term because it’s a sensitive asset.

Once in a while, you might find that as your business model evolves, certain legacy apps no longer add the value they once did. You can simply retire those tools completely to decrease overhead and increase security with minimal cost. However, across all of the strategies above, one essential requirement remains constant: the ability to effectively secure your users and resources. This is why identity plays such a foundational role in your journey to the cloud.

Key considerations throughout your cloud journey

In order to effectively evaluate each of the approaches above on an app-by-app basis across your technology portfolio, it’s helpful to use a consistent framework for application rationalization. Experts recommend creating a detailed technical, operational, and business profile of each application before selecting your migration strategy. Across Okta’s customer base, we’ve seen leaders zero in on four top factors when deciding what and how to move to the cloud:


  • How well does this approach improve our security posture?
  • Can we now adopt modern techniques, standards, and protocols—like multi-factor authentication (MFA), OAuth, and OpenID Connect?
  • Can these be easily managed and updated without having to rely on developers?
  • Can I log and gain visibility across all of the layers of my cloud application?


  • With this approach, can we more rapidly add to and maintain this application to improve developer productivity?
  • What about support for continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) practices?
  • Does this improve agility and adaptability across development and infrastructure teams?
  • Can we work across multiple IaaS providers for the benefits of a cloud-agnostic environment?

User Experience (UX)

  • How much does this improve user experience?
  • Can we provide easier, frictionless access with a modern interface?
  • Does it support a cohesive customer experience across channels?
  • Can we implement seamless integrations?

Cost and Return on Investment

  • How much effort, risk, and cost does this strategy introduce as compared to its benefits?
  • How critical is this particular application to our business?
  • How widespread is our usage?
  • What type of data does the application store (such as personally identifiable information or sensitive customer data)?

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