1. Introduction to Customer Identity and Access
1.1 Hyper-Connected Customers and their Security, Privacy, and Experience
Today’s increasingly sophisticated customers now view digital interactions as the primary mechanism
for connecting with brands and, therefore, expect significant online interactions to be delivered
simply and seamlessly. Transforming the customer experience is at the heart of digital
transformation and digital technologies are changing the game of customer interactions with new
rules and possibilities that were unimaginable only a few years back. Most enterprises have a large
number of customers who access mobile, IoT and other channels in addition to mere web apps, which
may or may not reside inside the firewall. As consumers increasingly conduct high-value, sensitive
transactions digitally, it is imperative for organizations to protect their businesses from threats
to consumer-facing channels especially in the context of financial services, pharmaceutical, and
other highly regulated industries.
Collecting, storing, and analyzing consumer data allow enterprises and government organizations to
provide better digital experiences for their consumers. This creates additional sales opportunities
and increases brand loyalty. Companies that capitalize on customer insights have a competitive
advantage over their contenders who do not. As the number of customers, applications, and services
continues to grow, the data collected on customers is also increasing rapidly. At the same time,
because consumer data is collected from various channels, this data is often found in disparate
identity stores, creating inconsistent user experiences and hindering the ability to have a single
unified view of these consumers.
Moreover, customers do expect some control around how firms collect, store, manage, and share
their profile data. With the competition only a click away, a company’s misuse of customer data,
whether deliberate or inadvertent, can significantly damage brand equity.
1.2 CIAM for a Secure and Seamless Customer Experience
Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) addresses the above-mentioned requirements of the
hyper-connected customer. CIAM is an emerging sub-genre of traditional IAM, which is of vital
importance for a seamless digital customer experience. An effective CIAM system provides more than
just access because it enables a relationship between the customer and the organization and
facilitates data sharing on which cross-marketing capabilities and business intelligence activities
1.2.1 Benefits of CIAM
Enterprises should consider implementing a CIAM solution because it
- Helps provide a holistic view of the customer, which will enable companies to understand their
customers’ actions across various access points.
- Provides a unified customer experience. It enables customer conversion and retention through
consistent registration and authentication options at extreme scale and performance, thus
allowing a secure and seamless customer experience.
- Can deliver consolidated reports and analytics around users to drive various sales
opportunities. These statistics typically include user demographics, social registration and
login data, behavioral data, and revenue activity.
- Adheres to privacy regulations and improves agility and scalability to support millions of
- Helps to build the bridge between marketing and line of business to deliver offerings that keep
customers delighted while delivering actionable data to the business.
Traditional IAM solutions do not provide these benefits (as explained in section 1.2.2).
1.2.2 CIAM vs Traditional IAM
CIAM goes beyond traditional IAM, also known as Workforce IAM. Workforce IAM looks inward, where
the focus is on business-to-employee (B2E) and business-to-business (B2B) interactions. Some
enterprises have a mistaken impression that an IAM solution that’s purpose-built for employees is a
natural fit for their customer interactions. It is important to note that CIAM transcends
traditional IAM especially in analyzing customer behavior, collecting consent for user data usage,
and integration into customer relationship management (CRM) systems, connected devices, and
marketing automation systems.
The goal of workforce IAM is to reduce the risk and cost associated with onboarding and
off-boarding new employees, partners and suppliers. By contrast, the purpose of CIAM is to help
drive revenue growth by leveraging identity data to acquire and retain customers. If the CIAM
processes are cumbersome, the experience is poor and the security is weak, customers will naturally
reach out to competitors who offer these processes in ways more streamlined or easier to use. The
same is not true of employees because employees are required to comply with and conform to their
company’s systems and technologies. Very few employees leave their employer because
business-to-employee (B2E) IAM processes are archaic or hard to use - employees are paid to use an
organization’s systems. On the other hand, customers will walk away if the user experience is not
CIAM systems vary from employee IAM systems in the following foundational areas:
Reduce risk and improve efficiency
Attract and retain customers
All required information of an employee is acquired when hiring
Customer information is acquired gradually over time (progressive profiling)
Employee identities are centrally managed by the enterprise
The control of identity is shared between the enterprise and the customer
Low priority (unless it detracts from efficiency)
Privacy and User Involvement
Organization-centric policies and procedures
Customer-centric policies and preferences
100s and 1000s
Performance and Reliability
Generally not prioritized
Table 1 - Traditional IAM vs Customer IAM
2. CIAM Key Features
Figure 1 - Key Features of CIAM
2.1 User On-Boarding - The Start of a Digital Relationship
Usually, the first step in a CIAM process is user registration. The goal of this phase is to
convert anonymous, casual website visitors to known, active registered users. If the registration
is too difficult, the customer will abandon the registration process, which will have a negative
impact on the business. Personalized services and deepening the relationship with the digital
customer are some benefits of registration in addition to identifying a user. It is important that
registration must be as user-friendly and simple as possible while collecting valuable customer
identity data. Ideally, organizations must provide users with multiple registration options, such
as self-service registration, social registration and delegated administration.
18.104.22.168 Self-Service Registration
Self-service registration is the most common method for registering online users, allowing them to
self-register for a user account and provide their identity data. A self-service registration form
usually expects components such as username, password, and one or more data fields. The form should
ideally be as minimal as possible and require only the fields necessary to create an account. The
type of data collected at registration is dependent on the type of service or information the user
is requesting. The organization can collect more data about the user over time, which is referred
to as progressive profiling.
22.214.171.124 Social Registration
The need for seamless registration has given rise to the use of social identities in the process,
which is known as social registration. Social registration streamlines registration by leveraging a
social login such as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Users can consent to allowing
attributes from their social media account to be filled into the registration form with this
approach, greatly reducing typing and simplifying the entire registration process. Users save
registration time, and they can log in with their social logins when they return to the website.
This approach provides benefits to both the user and the website. That being said, social
registration is not sufficient for all use cases such as high-assurance use cases, or with users
who don’t use social media.
126.96.36.199 Delegated Administration
Delegated administration is another form of registration. Even though this model is similar to
self-registration, in delegated administration, a delegate acts on behalf of the user and manually
creates the account for the user. A customer service center or help desk that creates online user
accounts on behalf of users are classic examples.
The CIAM solution should provide an administrative interface that allows delegates to create,
manage and delete user accounts and passwords on behalf of the user. To support this type of model,
the CIAM solution must provide a robust authorization framework that controls who can access which
user accounts and data.
2.1.2 Account Validation
An individual’s identity and associated identity data elements must be validated before a user
account is created. Even in the case where user attributes required for registration are fetched
via a third-party identity provider, the last phase of the registration will involve submitting a
form by the user. The objective of validation is to verify the information provided, and ensure
that users are who they say they are. Levels of validation vary: high-risk account operations will
require more sophisticated validation techniques, whereas low-risk account operations may require
little to no validation.
CIAM solutions may provide several techniques for validating user accounts and their associated
identity data including:
- Format validation - Enforces consistent data entry formats, such as required fields, field
length or field type.
- Data validation - Ensures the accuracy of data entered (with or without third-party services).
E.g. validate credit card data or a person’s age.
- Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHA) or
Google’s reCAPTCHA - Discerns humans from computers by presenting a user with a task that
humans can perform, but computers (hopefully) cannot.
At the same time, additional identity-proofing techniques must be applied for some accounts and
transactions. Identity proofing helps organizations validate the authenticity of users. The two
most common proofing techniques are as given below:
- Email verification - Verifies the authenticity of the email address by sending an automated
email to the user and providing a link that redirects the user back to the website to finish
the registration process.
- Dynamic Knowledge-Based Authentication (KBA) - Verifies the user based on facts (secrets) that
aren’t widely disclosed, ideally based on previous transactions with the organization. KBA can
also include fingerprinting and geolocation analysis among other things.
When onboarding customers, it is also important to think about the usability aspect. There has been
much debate about the precedence of security over usability in recent years because finding the
right balance has been extremely hard.
2.2 Progressive Profiling
Progressive profiling allows an organization to build a comprehensive user profile over time. At
the time of registration, a user account is typically an account with only a few attributes. Once
the customer is more comfortable with the organization, i.e. they request more services or perform
transactions, they become more willing to share personal data. At that point, the company can
prompt for additional identity data. For example, at the time of registration, a user may need to
provide only a first name, last name and an email address. If that user then wants to download a
white paper, access a digital service or purchase a product, the company may ask for additional
identity attributes, such as company name, job title, and contact information.
2.3 Single Sign-On
Single Sign-on (SSO) ensures that customers have a consistent login experience with common
credentials across digital properties. SSO is a commonly sought feature of most IAM implementations
today, and a CIAM system should also provide the same by supporting the standard federation
protocols — such as SAML, OAuth and OIDC amongst an organization’s websites. The CIAM system can
also include proprietary connectors for internally hosted applications and SaaS applications, such
as CRM systems and marketing automation systems, to enable a one-time sign-on experience.
Undoubtedly, SSO is an absolute must in a CIAM system when a company offers multiple portals to
perform business functions.
2.4 User Profile Management
Once registered, customers need self-service capabilities to manage, add, update, or delete their
own data. Customer self-care portals should be provided by CIAM solutions to allow customers and
delegated administrators to explicitly define preferences, which should be stored in a unified
customer profile to facilitate consistent, personalized experiences across channels. The self-care
portal is the one-stop shop to
- View or update a profile
- Manage consents given to third-party applications
- Reset a password
- Manage credentials
- Manage preferences
- Configure account recovery options
- View concurrent login sessions and activity logs
- Request for data export
- Associate social logins and more
Authentication beyond the scope of username and password is a requirement for an increasing number
of CIAM use cases.
2.5.1 Social Login
Social login is a key success factor in CIAM and a good CIAM system should support login with
multiple social identity providers to facilitate easy customer acquisition. Social login provides
federated sign-on that enables users to use an existing digital identity issued by a trusted
third-party identity provider (IdP). This allows a user to access a third-party application without
having to go through a new registration process, and the third-party IdP authenticates the user and
allows the CIAM system to capture the user’s identity attributes.
Social login has become increasingly popular in recent years because users complain of registration
fatigue after being forced yet again to register to complete a transaction. Traditional IAM systems
do not encourage social login. Notably, social login is treated as a high-risk factor as the
enterprise has no control over how the user credentials are stored and managed by a third party
identity provider. The same risk factor exists in CIAM but it is a compromise between convenience
and security. Also, the line of business plays a key part to negotiate on whether to use social
login or not. For example, financial institutes do not even consider integrating social login due
to obvious security and privacy concerns.
2.5.2 Multi-factor Authentication (Strong Authentication)
When systems nowadays contain so much confidential and personally identifiable information, it
becomes clear that passwords alone are not enough. Today’s security threats require much more
robust protection measures especially for high-risk or high-reward transactions, such as a purchase
or payment. Strong Authentication or Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) confirms a user’s identity
and ensures only the right people get access by adding an additional layer to the authentication
process. MFA provides a variety of factors to choose from, ranging from asking a security question
to capturing and confirming biometric data to using physical authentication keys, codes or One-Time
Strong authentication is encouraged in both CIAM and workforce IAM. Workforce IAM systems rely on
hardware tokens for MFA, while a large scale CIAM system uses soft tokens like One-time Password
(OTP) over SMS/Email or Time-based One-time Password (TOTP) (Google Authenticator). Both Google and
LinkedIn use FIDO U2F internally for employee authentication. Almost all consumer mobile
applications produced by vendors in financial, retail and airline domains now support login with
2.5.3 Adaptive Authentication (Risk-Based Authentication)
Second authentication factors (e.g. OTP over SMS, biometrics) must be adaptive or risk-based. That
is, the CIAM solution must consider the user’s device context, the resource they’re attempting to
access, the type of transaction they’re performing, or other contextual factors in order to
determine the second to nth authentication factors.
Risk-based authentication is the evaluation of runtime environmental parameters, user behavioral
analytics, and fraud/threat intelligence to match the appropriate authentication mechanism to the
level of business risk or as required by regulations. It is a non-static authentication system,
which takes into account the profile of the agent requesting access to the system to determine the
risk profile associated with that transaction. The risk profile is then used to determine the
complexity of the challenge. Based on the risk factors, the system will decide on whether to use
SMS OTP or use Knowledge-based Authentication (KBA). To determine the risk of the transaction, the
authenticating system may use a risk engine, which takes into consideration the geographical
location where the transaction initiated, the frequency, and the value of the transaction among
2.6 Fraud Detection
A CIAM system must be able to consume fraud information for the purpose of evaluation by the
risk/fraud detection engine to choose the right authentication mechanisms and permit or deny
access, or transaction completion.
Identity analytics can be used to identify a returning user and generate a risk score based on the
device, IP address, geolocation or user behavior. In other words, known bad domains, compromised
credentials, accounts suspected of fraud, fraud patterns and botnet behavior, will be fed into the
fraud detection engine during a transaction. Based on the anomaly detection algorithms or rules
defined in the engine, the CIAM system will respond to the fraudulent events by blocking the
transactions, locking the customer accounts and generating alerts to the responsible parties.
For example, if a customer logs into their account from the USA first and then from China within a
span of one hour, it is considered a fraud event with a high fraud score. For another example, if a
customer accesses online services between 9 PM to 11 PM GMT 90% of the time, and then if the same
user credentials are used to access the system between 2 AM to 3 AM GMT, then that too is
considered to be a fraud event with a medium fraud score.
2.7 Consent and Privacy Management
As organizations grow, more and more customer identity data is collected to make more personalized
and context-based decisions. Many consumers have become more sensitive to privacy issues with the
recent stream of high-profile identity breaches. Organizations operating in multiple jurisdictions
are most likely to need to comply with various privacy regulations. Therefore, customer consent and
privacy management is a top priority for most organizations.
Organizations must follow the rules and regulations pertaining to gathering user data enforced by
governments and different industrial bodies. There are now many strict privacy regulations that
vary by region, industry, company and even from person to person, and complying with these
regulations is critical because violations can lead to brand damage, lost customer trust, and
whopping fines. Therefore, CIAM solutions must provide centralized data access governance policies,
facilities within the UI to allow consumers to provide granular user-centric preferences, and other
capabilities to ensure that regional data storage and other privacy mandates are met.
2.8 Omni-channel Support
Today’s customers interact with online services through various channels, such as laptops,
smartphones, kiosks, gaming consoles, and personal digital assistants. CIAM solutions should be
optimized for cross-channel user experiences. The role of a CIAM in an omnichannel environment
ranges from authenticating the customer through multiple channels to managing the customer
preferences through those same channels to build a unified customer profile. For instance,
subscribers of news magazines can choose either the print version, the digital version or both, and
the digital subscription is available through the web, a smartphone or tablet. If a customer uses
the magazine’s mobile app to highlight some content, the same text should remain highlighted when
the user views the same content on the web. This is a seamless experience.
The channels available to a user will vary from organization to organization and from service to
service. Furthermore, to provide a better overall customer experience, the current trend is to
provide better integration between online and physical shopping experiences. For instance, retail
giants see that the future of the industry won’t be black or white in choosing either online or
in-store, it will be multi-channel. The bottom line is, companies in many verticals are looking to
deliver a better, seamless customer experience through multiple channels and it is imperative to
have a CIAM system to enable the smooth omnichannel experience.
3. CIAM - A WSO2 Reference Architecture
CIAM capabilities are, in fact, not rendered by a single product. These capabilities are more often
than not provided via an integrated solution, usually integrating an IAM system, a data analytics
solution, customer data platforms, data management platforms, identity proofing systems, e-commerce
platforms and more. CIAM requirements evolve over time with new business requirements. Therefore,
organizations need an agile, event-driven consumer IAM platform that can flex to meet both new
business opportunities and challenges.
WSO2 is the only vendor, which provides an open source (with no vendor lock-in), agile integration
platform for CIAM. WSO2 Identity Server
along with the WSO2 Integration Agile Platform provides out-of-the-box features to address common
CIAM patterns and also extension points to extend its feature set to address unique customer needs.
This section will address some key CIAM requirements via a set of commonly-implemented architecture
patterns with the WSO2 Identity Server as well as the rest of the WSO2 components.
3.1 Centralized Security and Administration
Figure 2 - Centralized Security and Administration
(with Adaptive Authentication and Analytics)
At a basic level, a company should leverage a centralized CIAM system to secure customer identity
and profile data from authentication by supporting the relevant identity standards, such as SAML,
OAuth, OIDC and
System for Cross-domain Identity Management (SCIM). They should also provide unified login (SSO)
across all of their digital properties, i.e. websites and other applications. Social login
capabilities can also be introduced at this point. Inbound,
outbound and just-in-time
(JIT) user provisioning can be used to manage information about users on multiple systems
and applications. Moreover, identity provisioning features can be used to propagate user identities
across different SaaS providers. Multiple instances of the CIAM system should be deployed to allow
low-latency, high-performance access to identity and profile data from many millions of customers.
As a next step, the company should enable convenient self-service registration, account management,
and account recovery features. They must also create a unified view of the customer from disparate
identity repositories that is accessible to all applications. Thereafter, secure and fully
customizable MFA that balances security and convenience for customers can be introduced. Needless
to say, the CIAM solution must enforce centralized policies and fine-grained data access governance
that can be used to enforce customer consent and adhere to applicable regulations at all times.
Subsequently, to support adaptive authentication and analytics, the CIAM system can be integrated
with risk engines and analytics systems. CIAM analytics helps an organization understand who its
customers are and how to drive more revenue via online customer interactions. With adaptive
authentication, different authentication flows can be determined based on contextual parameters and
the risk involved. To determine the risk of a transaction, the authenticating system can use a risk
engine, which takes into consideration the geographical location where the transaction was
initiated, the frequency, and the value of the transaction among other criteria.
3.1.1 Centralized Security and Administration with WSO2 Identity Server
Figure 3 - Centralized CIAM Capabilities with WSO2
Identity Server and WSO2 Stream Processor
WSO2 Identity Server is a uniquely
flexible, open source IAM product, which allows enterprises to perform single sign-on/sign-out,
identity federation, strong authentication, identity administration, account management, identity
provisioning, fine-grained access control, API security, and identity analytics, which include
monitoring, reporting, and auditing. It also provides a wide array of ready-to-use connectors that
can be used to connect with third-party systems to build tailor-made systems to meet business
By default, the WSO2 Identity Server can connect to JDBC, LDAP or Active Directory user stores and
supports username/password based authentication, as well as role-based or attribute-based access
control. Multi-option and multi-factor authentication, as well as adaptive authentication, can be
enabled in WSO2 Identity Server to define how users should be authenticated to various
applications. It allows configuring multi-step authentication where the authentication chain can
contain different authenticators at each step. For example, a developer can configure
username/password authentication as the first factor and then FIDO authentication as the second
factor. WSO2 Identity Server accepts email/SMS OTP, FIDO U2F, Google Authenticator, JWTs, Microsoft
Authenticator, Mobile Connect, RSA SecurID, social logins, and x.509 certificates. WSO2 Identity
Server provides connectors for Veridium Biometrics and Aware Knomi for mobile biometrics, while a
few others are in progress. Such configurations are straightforward in WSO2 Identity Server as they
are easily configurable through UI wizards.
SSO is one of the key features of WSO2 Identity Server that enables users to provide their
credentials once and obtain access to multiple applications. The users are not prompted for their
credentials when accessing each application until their session is terminated. Additionally, the
user can access all these applications without having to log in to each and every one of them
individually. WSO2 Identity Server supports SSO via SAML2, OpenID Connect, and WS-Federation
Passive. Moreover, SSO can be coupled with Identity Federation, which involves configuring a
third-party identity provider as the federated authenticator for user login to an application. When
federation is coupled with SSO, the user can log in to one application using the credentials of the
federated authenticator, and simultaneously be authenticated to other connected applications
without having to provide credentials again.
Identity provisioning features of the WSO2 Identity Server can be used to propagate user identities
across different user stores belonging to different applications. It supports SCIM and Service
Provisioning Markup Language (SPML) for this purpose.
WSO2 Identity Server’s self-service portal for end users provides a means to manage the user
profile or the user account, add security questions, revoke/update the password, manage the OpenID
profile, and view identity providers, user login sessions, pending approvals, and associated
Furthermore, WSO2 Identity Server provides a comprehensive consent management solution that can be
used to manage consents, where consumers have the ability to view, edit, export, and delete their
profile data. Its consent management module provides RESTful consent APIs to manage consent
remotely; a consent portal for users to review, modify, and revoke given consents; and admin portal
support for organizations to define and manage consents. It also has support for the Kantara
consent receipt specification.
With social login capabilities, customer profiles can be created from and customers can be
authenticated through third-party identity providers. The user can either complete the entire
registration form provided by the application or let the application import the existing identity
profile data from Facebook, LinkedIn or Google. If the user opts to sign up via their preferred
social network, the application will redirect the user to the given social network. Furthermore,
whenever the user wants to log in to the application, they will be redirected to the preferred
social site, which will perform the authentication and return a secure token to be used with the
WSO2 Identity Server can be integrated with risk engines and external systems to perform adaptive
authentication. For this purpose, WSO2
Stream Processor, a lightweight stream processing platform that understands streaming SQL
queries in order to capture, analyze, process and act on events in real time, is configured as the
default risk engine. It can collect events, analyze them in real time, identify patterns, map their
impacts, and communicate the results within milliseconds. It can process device fingerprints and
history, geo-location, geo-velocity, user attributes, and perform behavioral analysis. Also,
third-party intelligence can be imported. WSO2 Identity Server’s adaptive authentication
implementation comes with a rich script-based policy language, allowing to write powerful
authentication scripts in a script editor to enforce new policies easily. Static elements such as
user roles, user attributes, user stores, and dynamic elements such as user tendencies defined on
device usage, IP range, and geo-velocity can be taken into consideration when implementing policies
for adaptive authentication.
For analytics, the WSO2 Identity Analytics server, which is built-in but runs as a separate
process, can be used to generate identity and marketing analytics. The analytics server can be used
to perform the following tasks:
Monitoring and analysis
- Login events and session monitoring
- Logged in users/sessions
- Manually terminated user sessions
- Admin-forced password reset
- Real-time security alerting for suspicious login activities and abnormal sessions
- Auditing of privileged operations using distributed auditing system (XDAS)
- Built-in collection and monitoring of standard access and performance statistics
- Key system metrics monitoring and management using JMX MBeans
3.2 Customer Data Unification for Digital Transformation
A well-designed CIAM solution will enable customers to suitably connect to an organization’s
cross-channel digital offerings. At the same time, such a solution will also provide a single view
of the customer, and in order to achieve a single view, organizations must aggregate data from
multiple sources because customer identity data is often distributed across many different
locations, such as the user profile, multiple account records, third-party databases, and CRM and
Digital transformation allows the consumer to achieve self-service by providing direct access to
integrated systems to provide a unified user experience across all channels. It will also
facilitate new ways of engaging customers and delivering value. Pre-built connectors to other
systems as well as integration tools facilitate this. As mentioned previously, a CIAM system is not
an all-in-one solution and its ability to function in a larger ecosystem where it can appropriately
share information with a variety of systems is what makes it powerful.
Figure 4 - A Reference Architecture for a Complete CIAM
3.2.1 A WSO2 CIAM Reference Architecture for Digital Transformation
Figure 5 - A WSO2 Reference Architecture for a Complete
The two key WSO2 products that enable enterprise digital transformation are WSO2
API Manager and WSO2 Enterprise Integrator.
WSO2 API Manager is an open source API management solution which provides an API gateway and
support for API creation, publication, lifecycle management, versioning, monetization, governance,
security, rate limiting and analytics using proven WSO2 technology. It provides web interfaces for
development teams to deploy and monitor APIs, and for consumers to subscribe to, discover and
consume APIs through a user-friendly storefront. WSO2 API Manager consists of several components:
API Gateway, Key Manager, Traffic Manager, Publisher Portal, Developer Portal (Store) and
Analytics. Depending on the use case and traffic volumes, these components can be deployed in a
single runtime or as separate runtimes. APIs can be directly exposed to client applications via the
WSO2 API Manager Gateway, and the Key Manager is responsible for securing API access by issuing and
validating all security tokens. WSO2 API Manager provides other API management capabilities such as
documentation, service discovery via the store and analytics for the exposed APIs. The WSO2 API
Analytics profile is deployed as a separate runtime.
The ESB profile in the WSO2 Enterprise Integrator acts
as an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) and provides its fundamental services through an event-driven
and standards-based messaging engine (the bus). This enables enterprises to integrate existing
systems, legacy systems and APIs in a centralized way. The integration services or APIs responsible
for performing integration tasks will be deployed in the ESB and these endpoints will be exposed to
the client applications through the API gateway where they will be secured, throttled, and
As shown in the architecture above, WSO2 Enterprise Integrator will connect all the data stores,
CRM systems, marketing solutions, e-commerce platforms, Content Management Systems (CMS), data
management platforms and other systems by transforming data seamlessly across different formats and
transports to create a unified experience for the end customer. Leveraging existing APIs of these
applications to create new APIs to expose data in different or aggregated formats, and connecting
to legacy applications via adapters and exposing their data in standard formats via APIs are the
major tasks performed by an ESB in a CIAM system.
The management of all integration APIs of the ESB, as well as the existing exposable APIs, are
handled by WSO2 API Manager’s Gateway, which will centrally route all the API calls initiated from
the customer-facing applications to the back-end applications. The gateway can either connect with
WSO2 Identity Server or its own Key Manager to check the validity of security tokens, subscriptions
and API invocations. When WSO2 Identity Server and WSO2 API Manager coexist in a deployment, the
recommended practice is to allow WSO2 Identity Server to behave as WSO2 API Manager’s token server
instead of the API manager’s own Key Manager. This is because the Key Manager is a stripped-down
version of WSO2 Identity Server, where the latter can perform all the tasks required by WSO2 API
Manager pertaining to token generation and validation.
However, in this consolidated CIAM system, it is recommended to deploy a separate WSO2 API Key
Manager as well as WSO2 Identity Server if there is a requirement to expose APIs of the identity
server to consuming applications. In that case, the API manager’s Key Manager will solely secure
APIs of the identity server and the rest of the APIs. Meanwhile, WSO2 Identity Server will take
care of the rest of the identity and access management aspects such as identity federation, social
login, single sign-on, identity bridging, adaptive and strong authentication, account management
and identity provisioning. It will also publish identity events to the WSO2 Identity Analytics
Server and leverage the WSO2 Stream Processor as a risk engine. With over
50 connectors available, WSO2 Identity Server can communicate with various identity
providers and applications to perform social login, federated authentication and outbound user
The Developer Portal/Store component of WSO2 API Manager is a web application, which provides a
collaborative interface for API publishers to host and advertise their APIs and for API consumers
to self register, discover, evaluate, subscribe to and use secured APIs.
The Customer Portal of WSO2 Identity Server for end users provides a means to manage the user
profile or the user account, add security questions, revoke/update the password, manage OpenID
profile, and view identity providers, consents, user login sessions, pending approvals, and
WSO2 API Manager provides a Traffic Manager which helps to regulate API traffic, make APIs and
applications available to consumers at different service levels, and secure APIs against attacks.
The Traffic Manager features a dynamic throttling engine to process throttling policies in
real-time including rate limiting of API requests.
The Analytics component of WSO2 API Manager provides reports, statistics and graphs on the APIs
deployed. Alerts can be configured to monitor these APIs and detect unusual activity, manage
locations via geolocation statistics and carry out a detailed analysis of the logs.
CIAM drives revenue growth by leveraging identity data to acquire and retain customers. CIAM
systems are designed to provision, authenticate, authorize, collect and store information about
consumers from across many domains.
CIAM differs from traditional or workforce IAM in many ways. User experience is as important as
privacy and security. Customer on-boarding, single-sign-on, progressive profiling, social
integrations, strong and adaptive authentication, self-service, omnichannel support, fraud
detection, analytics, and scalability are the key areas any CIAM implementation should be concerned
about. CIAM systems generally feature weak password-based authentication, but also support social
logins and other stronger authentication methods. Information collected about consumers can be used
for many different purposes, such as authorization to resources, for analysis to support marketing
campaigns, or fraud detection initiatives. Moreover, CIAM systems must be able to manage many
millions of identities, and process potentially billions of logins and other transactions per day.
WSO2 provides a compelling platform to build a comprehensive CIAM solution with its IAM, API
management, integration, and streaming analytics capabilities. By delivering functionality on a
cloud native, open source platform, WSO2 facilitates agility for the development and deployment of
such a CIAM solution.
Identity data is the new gold, and CIAM is a mainstream business capability that will further
empower developers as a way to continuously adapt to new customer and business needs.
WSO2 is the world’s #1 open source integration vendor, helping digital-driven organizations
become integration agile. Customers choose us for our broad integrated platform, our approach
to open source, and agile transformation methodology. The company’s hybrid platform for
developing, reusing, running and managing integrations prevents lock-in through open source
software that runs on-premises or in the cloud. Today, hundreds of leading brands and thousands
of global projects execute 6 trillion transactions annually using WSO2 integration
https://wso2.com to learn more.