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September 29, 2022

What Do Privileged Access Management, Bikes & E-bikes Have in Common?

Sometimes you need to experience something firsthand to understand the real difference. I had one of those experiences in the Alps just recently.

I had heard about the benefits of electric bikes before. I sort of understood that it is less effort to ride an e-bike. What I did not understand is that it really is a paradigm shift in the experience of riding a bike. 

The first thing that hit me was acceleration. With an e-bike, you just pedal a few times with the boost on, and you’ve suddenly gained significant speed from a complete standstill.

The second thing was riding up rising slopes. On our way to the destination, we saw three young guys riding traditional bikes exerting huge effort just to keep some sort of momentum going on a steep hill. One of them was walking the bike. I was just cruising past these three gentlemen who were certainly more fit than I am. 

The saying ‘as easy as riding a bike’ has never been truer. Sometimes it’s not the rider, it’s the bike.

Experiencing Modern Privileged Access Management

Just like the e-bike, a modern privileged access management (PAM) solution should make accessing challenging IT or Operational Technology (OT) terrains effortless for people who are not experts in using these tools. Putting the user experience at the forefront and making sure that the engine that runs the PAM solution is modern and capable to adapt to different access landscapes is the way to achieve this.

Here's a short description of the truly modern privileged access experience.

  1. Log in using single sign-on (SSO) or biometric authentication. The PAM is synced with your Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution, and the linking of the right role with the right identity is automatic.  
  2. Once in, you only see the targets you are allowed to access as a list. It’s just one click and you’re in your destination. 
  3. Just like many bike apps, the PAM solution logs your activities and even records the whole session. 
  4. There’s no need for you to handle any passwords or keys at any point. It’s a smooth, uninterrupted, passwordless and keyless ride to the goal. 

Charging up Privileged Access Management 

A modern PAM may have the same framework as the old one, but the architecture is built to operate at cloud speed. It’s the same as with electric cars. The body is almost the same but the engine is entirely different. It’s because the e-car engine hasn’t been retrofitted from a combustion engine but designed completely anew to maximize the benefits of new technology.

So what’s under the hood of modern PAM software? 

  1. The privileged access management tool scans the terrain, so you always have an up-to-date view on all your global cloud assets for access.
  2. The access management solution has an automatic boost. If you need to scale up your services, it can do so instantaneously and without much effort from you. 
  3. It leaves a minimal footprint in your environment with an immutable infrastructure approach. Passwordless and keyless access management eliminates the need to manage leave-behind credentials because there aren’t any. 
  4. Just like an electric engine, it has fewer moving parts. No software agents to install on the client or the server nor runtime changes to your environment. No need to vault, rotate and manage passwords or keys either. 
  5. Microservices architecture. Boost just the functionality you need at a given time. For example, if there is a spike in RDP connections, just ramp up that functionality without needing to ramp up the entire PAM instance. 
  6. You can turn off the e-assistance. In some IT and OT environments, you cannot use all of the latest features. You have to vault secrets or use a command line tool to access a target. A hybrid PAM solution can then work like your traditional bike to achieve what is necessary.

Experience the Difference Between Modern PAM and Traditional PAM

The traditional bike and e-bike look approximately the same. There’s also little difference with the way you operate the bike: brakes, gear, how you pedal, lights, etc. work as before. 

It’s the same with traditional PAM and modern, hybrid PAM. You might understand the difference between passwordless & keyless PAM and vaulting PAM on a cognitive level, but if you haven’t experienced it, it might be hard to get a real sense of the difference. 

But once you’ve had the experience, you don’t want to go back to vaulting, rotating, and managing passwords or keys anymore. Our customers say the same. Not a single one of them has ever gotten back to us and said “I wish I was still managing and rotating thousands of passwords like in the past”.  

Learn why KuppingerCole Analysts recognized our PrivX Hybrid Privileged Access Management solution as a leader for dynamic, hybrid cloud environments in the following categories:

  • Overall leader 
  • Market leader 
  • Innovation leader 
  • Product leader 

If you want to take our PrivX for a test drive, you can do so here.

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Teemu Tunkelo

Dr. Teemu Tunkelo, former CEO at SSH (2020-2024), is an international business leader who has served major companies, such as Voith, Siemens, ABB, Invensys, and Compaq in global management and technology leadership roles for over 25 years in Zurich, London, Munich, Helsinki, and Cleveland (Ohio). His prior experience...

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