I was curious about the difference between the CIAM and IAM and did a quick review of the key differences between CIAM and IAM. Here you can read my key findings on the differences between CIAM and IAM in detail based on my quick review.

Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) vs Identity Access Management (IAM)

Is CIAM significantly different from classic and traditional IAM?

Even though, CIAM and IAM look like technological twins, the purpose of each concept is significantly different. Generally, IAM emphasizes an internal-facing solution that manages employee identities while CIAM is externally-oriented that based on the customer-facing solution, managing customer identities on multiple platforms. IAM targets employees of the business and business’s customers are the main target of CIAM. Many IAM solutions market products are flexible enough to accommodate CIAM use cases.

“Consumer use cases are different from employee use cases. CIAM implementations require specialized functions to support the consumer user experience and to leverage standard IAM capabilities in different ways. ” ~Gartner

Key differences (IAM vs CIAM)

  • Traditional IAM focuses on managing employee identity within the corporation while CIAM focuses on managing customer identity.
  • The scalability in terms of users is significantly high in CIAM compared to IAM. In numbers, an IAM system can only scale up to 100,000s of users where CIAM solution can scale up to 100s of millions of users.
  • Generally, in IAM users are registered by their company while CIAM allows users to register themselves to have their own specific data.
  • In IAM, it maintains a homogeneous controlled corporate environment to manage user privacy and personal data while CIAM is capable of handling personal data considering the privacy and data protection regulations that open to the user to view, adjust or modify consent settings accordingly.
  • IAM does the authentication based on internal directory services while CIAM allows authentication against public services and directory services.
  • In traditional IAM, the identity provider is normally one central internal It system while and CIAM allows many decentralized identity providers.
  • IAM can integrate with HR and ERP systems while CIAM is capable of integrating with payment solutions, analytics, marketing tools, internal IAM, e-commerce and many more.

Why there is more focus on CIAM rather than IAM?

Since there is a drastic increase in demand for privacy and user-centered data, to ensure the

IAM strategies have more focused than IAM.

If it is a consumer-facing business, selecting a CIAM solution can reduce the risk of losing revenue, reputation, and consumers through a balance of security and customer experience.

  • CIAM solutions are capable of improving the customer experience and it reduces the security risks
  • CIAM solutions support fast and flexible customer authentication to multiple applications from multiple devices
  • CIAM solutions have significant scalability where it accommodates millions of user records with high performance.
  • CIAM solutions ensure the privacy of personal data as it obeys the global privacy and data regulations.
  • CIAM solutions are capable of handling customer’s expectations to give a better user experience.
  • CIAM solutions are flexible where it has the potential to integrate with various types of tools.

Prominent CIAM solution providers

One of the prominent CIAM solution providers in the market is WSO2 CIAM where WSO2 is the only vendor, which provides an open source , agile integration platform for CIAM with no vendor lock-in. As an ideal CIAM solution provider in the market, WSO2 CIAM strategy enables organizations to securely capture and manage all sources and forms of customer identity and profile data.

Key components of the WSO2 CIAM solution

  • Flexible identity federation and single sign-on
  • Strong and adaptive authentication based on scripting templates
  • Privacy compliance (GDPR compliant platform and privacy toolkit)
  • Security and fraud detection capabilities
  • Secure APIs and integration with WSO2 API Manager
  • BYOI including Social Login integration
  • Customer self-care portal including self-signup and self-service dashboard
  • Analytics capabilities with streaming integration

To read more about this amazing CIAM solution which provides by WSO2 refer “WSO2 Customer Identity and Access Management Solution” (




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Gangani Chamika

Gangani Chamika

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