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Identity management is prerequisite to account management, which in turn is prerequisite to the management of entitlements and credentials.

In most cases, it is the management of entitlements and credentials that is of interest and which yields value to an organization.

Directories do not embody any business process -- they simply house and make accessible a set of data.

Just as the term identity and access management is sometimes used to refer to other types of systems, so too are other terms sometimes used to refer to IAM.

Web single sign-on (Web-SSO) -- Older forms of single sign-on, strictly into web applications, which either install an agent on each web application or proxy connections between users and web sites.

Just like federated Id Ps, Web SSO systems normally rely on a directory, which should be managed by the IAM system.

Account repository -- A database, either published (e.g., as a directory) or internal to a single system or application, which enumerates accounts, along with related credentials and entitlements for each account.

An identity and access management system (IAM for short) is a system which automates the management of identities, accounts, entitlements and credentials.

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