What is IAM

Introduction to Nathan Wiehe and IaM Historical Overview

I love coffee, there… I admitted it.  When we decided that the site would be coffee themed I was more than excited, it stirred me up!  My wife would call me a “coffee snob;” I prefer the word “aficionado!”  Over the years, my taste for coffee has matured; now I only buy locally-sourced coffee from vendors where I live that deal directly with the coffee source.  I brew it in a variety of different ways: drip, French press, or some combination that percolates my interest that day.  If you follow any of this, then you know I have penchants for coffee and its varietals.

But hearing about my coffee obsession is not why you came here today, hopefully.  I am hoping it is to take a quick sip of what we have to offer at the EST Knowledge Café and use some of our knowledge to better your business.

A quick bit about me, early in my career I was a contracted system administrator for a state government organization.  I managed hundreds of servers and hundreds of thousands of user objects, often times by my lonesome.  In my spare time, which there was painfully little of, I wrote VB applications, which I would dream up, to make my life easier.  Some were security applications that would help track down intruder workstations, or there were applications that would help with automation, which I was painfully in need of with the volumes of directory objects I controlled and maintained.

The concepts of what would be later called identity management were just coming about, and it was the late 1990s.  For whatever reason, I was there, being introduced to the very few products that were hitting the market, literally at their inception.  It was a case of being in the right place at the right time, in my opinion.  Also, I was in the perfect place in my career because I immediately saw the benefit of these products and what they could do for an organization like where I was contracting.  My first issue was that there was literally no way that a grunt like me was going to convince the state that they needed, and should purchase, this automation framework.  So I left, went to work for a company that did know how to sell this type of software, and went on the road as a consultant to peddle and implement identity management solutions.

Now nearly 10 years later, I am still a consultant at heart and love the field of identity and access management (IaM).  I don’t know if I will ever leave this field; logical security warms me like a good cup of coffee, and I feel like there will always be need for this type of security infrastructure as long as computers and companies are around.

I can recount the multiple iterations of IaM technologies that have come and gone, in some instances.  At the start of the logical security industry, vendors were looking to solve problems with their technology—not our problems, their problems.  Many were large, multi-national organizations with onboarding and off boarding issues.  As they brought on new employees, they weren’t enabled to start performing their jobs a week or more later because the organizational processes were not streamlined. The onboarding processes were cumbersome and took a lot of time to execute.  This isn’t surprising; in the earliest days of technology, the majority of software was written to solve internal problems; word processors and human resource systems were all written to increase efficiencies because almost everything was performed by hand.

Thus, the rise of IaM solutions: create sophisticated software to manage the lifecycle of employees in operational systems—from cradle to grave.  I hope that this brief history of IaM lays the foundation of why this industry started. Like the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention.”

I hope you come back to our knowledge cafe as our information grows. We want you to glean what you need as you face challenges in your organization.  If by chance, you

have specific topics you would like to see covered, just let us know. We would love to add our two beans!

Nathan Wiehe


Nathan is the VP of Integration Services, he has been working in the IAM space for over 15 years. He enjoys writing and drinking coffee, not necessarily in that order.

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