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Oracle® Fusion Middleware User's Guide for Oracle Identity Manager
11g Release 1 (11.1.1)

Part Number E14316-08
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1 Feature Overview

Oracle Identity Manager is a user provisioning and administration solution, which automates the process of adding, updating, and deleting user accounts from applications and directories. It also improves regulatory compliance by providing granular reports that attest to who has access to what. Oracle Identity Manager is available as a stand-alone product or as part of Oracle Identity and Access Management Suite.

Automating user identity provisioning can reduce Information Technology (IT) administration costs and improve security. Provisioning also plays an important role in regulatory compliance. Key features of Oracle Identity Manager include password management, workflow and policy management, identity reconciliation, reporting and auditing, and extensibility.

1.1 Features of Oracle Identity Manager

The features of Oracle Identity Manager can be divided into the following categories:

1.1.1 User Administration

By deploying self-service features and delegating administrative functions, an organization can increase user productivity, user satisfaction, and operational efficiency.

Oracle Identity Manager Self Service Profile Management

Users can view and edit their own profiles by using the self-service interface of Oracle Identity Manager. This reduces administrative overhead and provides users with control over their identity profiles.

Administrative Profile Management

You can view and manage the profiles of other users subject to access permissions by using the user interface for Oracle Identity Manager administration. This allows you to create and edit user profiles, change passwords of users, and perform other delegated administration tasks.

Request Management

The self-service interface also enables users to create provisioning requests for resources with fine-grained entitlements, profile management requests, and role membership requests. Business approvers, such as team leaders, line managers, and department heads, can use the same Web-based interface to examine and approve incoming requests. This helps organizations in reducing effort and cost.

Delegated Administration

Oracle Identity Manager features a highly flexible security framework that supports delegation of most administrative functions to any group or user. By moving administration points as close to the user as possible, an organization can achieve tighter control and better security, increasing productivity at the same time.

1.1.2 Workflow and Policy

The use of workflow and policy to automate business and IT processes can lead to improved operational efficiency, enhanced security, and more cost-effective compliance tracking. Oracle Identity Manager provides the following features in this category:

Policy Management

Oracle Identity Manager enables policy-based automated provisioning of resources with fine-grained entitlements. For any set of users, administrators can specify access levels for each resource to be provisioned, granting each user only the exact level of access required to complete the job. These policies can be driven by user roles or attributes, enabling implementation of role-based access control as well as attribute-based access control. Effective blending of role-based and attribute-based policies is key to a scalable and manageable organization provisioning solution.

A request goes through multiple approvals before it is executed. When the request is submitted, it must acquire approvals at different levels. An approval in the system can be configured by using an approval policy. An approval policy defines the approval process to be invoked and the approval rules associated with the policy. These approval rules help the request engine to select the approval process. Business analysts can define approval policies and approval rules.

Workflow Management

Oracle Identity Manager supports the separation of approval and provisioning workflows. An approval workflow enables an organization to model its preferred approval processes for managing resource access requests. A provisioning workflow enables an organization to automate IT tasks for provisioning resources with the most complex of provisioning procedures.

The separation of these two workflows empowers business and IT process owners to manage work efficiently with minimum cross-process interferences. It also enables an organization to leverage existing workflows already deployed in systems such as a help desk and HRMS. Oracle Identity Manager provides the Workflow Visualizer that allows business users, administrators, and auditors to visualize task sequences and dependencies to understand process flow and the Workflow Designer to edit and manage the process flow.

Dynamic Error Handling

The error-handling capability of Oracle Identity Manager enables you to handle exceptions that occur during provisioning. Frequent problems, for example, absence of resources, do not stop the entire provisioning transaction or cause it to fail. Business logic defined within the provisioning workflow offers customized fail-safe capabilities within an Oracle Identity Manager implementation.

Transaction Integrity

Based on embedded state management capabilities, Oracle Identity Manager provides the high level of transaction integrity required by other mission-critical organization systems. Oracle Identity Manager features a state engine with rollback and recovery capabilities. When a provisioning transaction fails or is stopped, the system is able to recover and roll back to the last successful state or reroute to a different path, in accordance with predefined rules.

Real-Time Request Tracking

To maintain better control and provide improved visibility into all provisioning processes, Oracle Identity Manager enables users and administrators to track request status in real time, at any point during a provisioning transaction.

1.1.3 Password Management

Password management is one of the foremost issues in organizations nowadays. Implementing a password management solution reduces cost and overhead related to raising tickets or calling help desks. The password management features of Oracle Identity Manager discussed in this section aim to help organizations in this area.

Self-Service Password Management

Users can manage their own enterprise passwords, which might then be synchronized with their managed accounts depending on how the managed accounts are individually configured. The enterprise passwords are managed by using the self-service capabilities of Oracle Identity Manager. If a user forgets the password, Oracle Identity Manager can present customizable challenge questions to enable self-service identity verification and password reset. Research shows that the bulk of help desk calls are related to password reset and account lockout. By reducing the need for help desk calls, this self-service capability lowers costs.

Advanced Password Policy Management

Most best practices are supported out of the box and are configurable through an intuitive user interface. Supported password complexity requirements include: password length, alphanumeric and special characters usage, uppercase and lowercase usage, full or partial exclusion of user name, minimum password age, and historical passwords. Oracle Identity Manager lets you define complex password policies that control the passwords set by users. In addition, Oracle Identity Manager allows the application of multiple policies for each resource. For instance, users with fewer privileges can be subjected to a more relaxed password policy, whereas privileged administrators can be subjected to a more stringent policy.

Password Synchronization

Oracle Identity Manager can synchronize or map passwords across managed resources and enforce differences in password policies among these resources. In addition, if an organization is using the desktop-based password reset feature of Microsoft Windows, the Active Directory (AD) connector of Oracle Identity Manager can intercept password changes at the AD server and subsequently propagate these changes to other managed resources in accordance with policies. Similar bidirectional password synchronization capability is offered in most Oracle Identity Manager connectors for directory servers and mainframes.

1.1.4 Audit and Compliance Management

Identity management forms a key component in any audit compliance solution of an organization. Oracle Identity Manager helps an organization to minimize risk and reduces the cost of meeting internal and external governance and security audits. This section discusses the features of Oracle Identity Manager that are listed in the audit and compliance management category.

Identity Reconciliation

Reconciliation is one of the significant capabilities of Oracle Identity Manager that enables it to monitor and track the creation, updation, and deletion of account across all managed resources. The process of reconciliation is performed by the reconciliation engine. If Oracle Identity Manager detects any accounts or changes to user access privileges are affected beyond its control, then the reconciliation engine can immediately take corrective action, such as undo the change or notify you. Oracle Identity Manager also helps you to detect and map existing accounts in target resources. This helps in the creation of an organization-wide identity and access profile for each employee, partner, or customer user.

Rogue and Orphan Account Management

A rogue account is an account created "out of process" or beyond the control of the provisioning system. An orphan account is an operational account without a valid owner. These accounts represent serious security risks to an organization. Oracle Identity Manager can monitor rogue and orphan accounts continuously. By combining denial access policies, workflows, and reconciliation, an organization can perform the required corrective actions when such accounts are discovered, in accordance with security and governance policies.

Service Accounts

Oracle Identity Manager can also manage the life cycle of special service accounts, also known as administrator accounts. These accounts have special life cycle requirements that extend beyond the life cycle of an assigned user and across the life cycles of multiple assigned users. Proper management of service accounts can help to eliminate another source of potential orphan accounts.

Comprehensive Reporting and Auditing

Oracle Identity Manager reports on both the history and the current state of the provisioning environment. Some of the identity data captured by Oracle Identity Manager includes user identity profile history, role membership history, user resource access, and fine-grained entitlement history. Oracle Identity Manager also captures data generated by its workflow, policy, and reconciliation engines. By combining this data along with identity data, an organization has all the required data to address any identity and access-related audit inquiry.

Attestation

Attestation, also referred to as recertification, is a key part of Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and a highly recommended security best practice. Organizations meet these attestation requirements mostly through manual processes based on spreadsheet reports and e-mails. These manual processes tend to be fragmented, are difficult and expensive to manage, and have little data integrity and auditability.

Oracle Identity Manager offers an attestation feature that can be deployed quickly to enable an organization-wide attestation process that provides automated report generation, delivery, and notification. Attestation reviewers can review fine-grained access reports within an interactive user interface that supports fine-grained certify, reject, decline, and delegate actions. All report data and reviewer actions are captured for future auditing needs. Reviewer actions can optionally trigger corrective action by configuring the workflow engine of Oracle Identity Manager.

1.1.5 Integration Solutions

A scalable and flexible integration architecture is critical for the successful deployment of organization provisioning solutions. Oracle Identity Manager offers a proven integration architecture and predefined connectors for fast and low-cost deployments.

Adapter Factory

Integrating most provisioning systems with managed resources is not easy. Connecting to proprietary systems might be difficult. The Adapter Factory eliminates the complexity associated with creating and maintaining these connections. The Adapter Factory provided by Oracle Identity Manager is a code-generation tool that enables you to create Java classes.

The Adapter Factory provides rapid integration with commercial or custom systems. Users can create or modify integrations by using the graphical user interface of the Adapter Factory, without programming or scripting. When connectors are created, Oracle Identity Manager repository maintains their definitions, creating self-documenting views. You use these views to extend, maintain, and upgrade connectors.

Predefined Connectors

Oracle Identity Manager offers an extensive library of predefined connectors for commercial applications and other identity-aware systems that are used widely. By using these connectors, an organization can get a head start on application integration. Each connector supports a wide range of identity management functions. These connectors use the most appropriate integration technology recommended for the target resource, whether it is proprietary or based on open standards. These connectors enable out-of-the-box integration between a set of heterogeneous target systems and Oracle Identity Manager. Because the connectors provide a set of components that were originally developed by using the Adapter Factory, you can further modify them with the Adapter Factory to enable the unique integration requirements of each organization.

Generic Technology Connectors

If you do not need the customization features of the Adapter Factory to create your custom connector, you can use the Generic Technology Connector (GTC) feature of Oracle Identity Manager to create the connector. For detailed information about GTC, see "Generic Technology Connectors".

See Also:

Oracle Fusion Middleware Developer's Guide for Oracle Identity Manager for more information about generic technology connectors

1.1.6 User Provisioning

Provisioning provides outward flow of user information from Oracle Identity Manager to a target system. Provisioning is the process by which an action to create, modify, or delete user information in a resource is started from Oracle Identity Manager and passed into the resource. The provisioning system communicates with the resource and specifies changes to be made to the account.

Provisioning includes the following:

  • Automated user identity and account provisioning: This manages user identities and accounts in multiple systems and applications. For example, when an employee working in the payroll department is created in the human resources system, accounts are also automatically created for this user in the e-mail, telephone, accounting, and payroll reports systems.

  • Workflow and policy management: This enables identity provisioning. Administrators can use interfaces provided by provisioning tools to create provisioning processes based on security policies.

  • Reporting and auditing: This enables creating documentation of provisioning processes and their enforcement. This documentation is essential for audit, regulatory, and compliance purposes.

  • Attestation: This enables administrators to confirm users' access rights on a periodic basis.

  • Access deprovisioning: When the access for a user is no longer required or valid in an organization, Oracle Identity Manager revokes access on demand or automatically, as dictated by role or attribute-based access policies. This ensures that a user's access is promptly terminated where is it no longer required. This is done to minimize security risks and prevent paying for access to costly resources, such as data services.

1.1.7 Organization and Role Management

An organization entity represents a logical container of other entities such as users, roles, and policies in Oracle Identity Manager. In other words, organizations are containers that can be used for delegated administrative model. In addition, organizations define the scope of other Oracle Identity Manager entities, such as users. Oracle Identity Manager supports a flat organization structure or a hierarchical structure, which means that an organization can contain other organizations. The hierarchy can represent departments, geographical areas, or other logical divisions for easier management of entities.

Roles are logical groupings of users to whom you can assign access rights within Oracle Identity Manager, provision resources automatically, or use in common tasks such as approval and attestation. Roles can be independent of organizations, span multiple organizations, or can contain users from a single organization.