Gartner Research

Decision Point for Selecting Authorization Mechanisms

Published: 10 July 2012

ID: G00235113

Analyst(s): Ian Glazer


The choices identity teams have for managing and enforcing access control have grown well beyond traditional mandatory and discretionary access control. Rule- and role-based access control, as well as the more recent attribute-based access control, all have a place in an overall authorization strategy. Identity teams also have a choice of where and when they choose to enforce authorization decisions. This Decision Point examines the tools and methods identity teams can use to manage and enforce authorization, and it provides a means for selecting appropriate authorization mechanisms for a given situation.

Table Of Contents

Decision Point

Decision Context

  • Architectural Context
  • Related Decisions

Evaluation Criteria

  • Administrative Authorization Evaluation Criteria
    • Maturity of Group Management Capabilities
    • Maturity of Access Policy Management
    • Existence of a Role Model
    • Segregation-of-Duties Requirements
  • Runtime Authorization Evaluation Criteria
    • Granularity of Targets
    • Subject Attribute Requirements
    • Resource Attribute Requirements
    • Context Attribute Requirements
    • Obligations Requirements
  • Requirements and Constraints
    • Requirements
    • Constraints
  • Principles


  • Administrative vs. Runtime Authorization Mechanisms
  • Intrinsic Attributes vs. Entitlements
  • Entitlement Assignment: Roles vs. Rules
  • Roles as Containers of Entitlements vs. Roles as Entitlements
  • WAM vs. EAM

Future Developments

  • Content
  • Device Identity
  • Location

Decision Tool

  • Subject Attributes to Use: Attributes, Entitlements and Roles
    • Intrinsic Attributes Only
    • Entitlements Only
    • Attributes and Entitlements
    • Entitlements and Roles
    • Attributes, Entitlements and Roles
  • Methods of Assigning Access: Roles, Rules or Direct Assignment
    • Attribute-Based Rules
    • Roles
    • Directly Assign Entitlements
    • Organizational Capability Required
  • Automation of Entitlement Assignment
    • Automate the Assignment of Entitlements
    • Manual Assignment of Entitlements
    • Request-Based Assignment of Entitlements
  • Subject, Resource and Context Attribute Considerations
    • Use Both Subject and Resource Attributes
    • Use Subject Attributes
    • Use Resource Attributes
    • Use Context Attributes
    • Re-examine the Authorization Requirements
  • EAM vs. WAM
    • Use Only EAM
    • Use Both EAM and WAM
    • Use Only WAM
    • Use WAM and Existing Application Capabilities
    • Re-evaluate the Requirements
    • Use Application-Embedded Authorization Engine
  • Comparing EAM, RBAC and WAM
    • Externalized Authorization Management
    • Role-Based Access Control
    • Web Access Management
    • Combined Comparison

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