Gartner Research

Building Identity Into Microservices

Published: 15 August 2017

ID: G00328337

Analyst(s): Paul Rabinovich


Microservice architecture can enable high scalability, availability and performance. Integration of microservices with IAM must not negatively impact the benefits of MSA-based design. This document guides technical professionals through best IAM practices for MSA applications.

Table Of Contents


  • Directory Architecture and Attribute Providers
  • User Authentication
    • Adaptive Authentication
  • Service Identity and Service Authentication
    • Authentication in Asynchronous Communications
    • Do Microservice Instances Need an Identity?
    • Credential Management for Microservices
  • Access With OAuth 2.0 Tokens
    • Stateful and Stateless Tokens
    • Limitations of OAuth 2.0 Tokens
  • Communicating With Infrastructure Services
  • Authorization Architecture
  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses


  • When Integrating With IAM Services, Respect the MSA Principles
  • Administer Domain-Specific Attributes and Policies Locally
  • Minimize Look-Up Requests to External Systems of Record
  • Adopt OAuth 2.0 for Authentication and Authorization
  • Avoid Anonymous Microservices
  • Colocate PDPs With the Microservices That Use Them

The Details

  • A Brief Introduction to Microservices
  • Typical Infrastructure Services Supporting MSA
  • MSA Platforms
    • Pivotal Cloud Foundry
    • Azure Service Fabric
    • Spring Framework
  • Impersonation and Delegation in OAuth 2.0

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