State of the Union

Last week Oracle announced they had purchased Passlogix (best known for the V-GO ESSO application) and this got me thinking about the changes in the last 10 years in the Identity Industry.

Last week Oracle announced they had purchased Passlogix (best known for the V-GO ESSO application) and this got me thinking about the changes in the last 10 years in the Identity Industry.

A decade ago you had start-ups galore.  Business Layers (eProvisioning), Netegrity (SiteMinder), Access360, Thor (Xellerate), Waveset, Oblix, Trulogica, M-Tech and Courion, too name a few, almost all of which were acquired.

Business Layers got acquired by Netegrity who got subsequently acquired by CA.  Access360 got acquired by IBM as part of the Tivoli Identity Manager product.  Thor got acquired by Oracle, Waveset by Sun and subsequently Oracle, Oblix by Oracle as well (I am sensing a trend here by the way).  Trulogica got acquired by HP where it saw its demise.  M-Tech became Hitachi and Courion bucked the trend and stayed Courion.  Even the smaller space tools like Maxware got picked up by SAP.  In fact, up until the last few years, we have remained in the land of the Big Company Identity Stack.

So how did we get there?

Back in the day IDM was slowly being looked at as the next wave in Risk and security.  The issue at the time was that the products were very green and lacked the technical maturity to make implementation a worthwhile process.  Sure, the low hanging fruit of automagically creating an Active Directory or Netware account was a breeze but the implementation around single sign-on, strategic workflows and approval/escalation to a host of applications was not a smooth process.  In fact in the early 2000s the process involved prior to the technology was still being ironed out.  Many of the projects we worked on required a high level of customization and as a result the time to implement took in some cases years to complete.  During these multi-year engagements a good number of projects failed to get off the ground or changed scope so many times that in the end the effort was deemed a failure or not what is was originally sold as.

Eventually sanity won out and most organizations realized that Web Access Management, Provisioning and further more Federation and Role Management were separate sides of the Identity Management box.  Instead of one large “Big Bang” a step by step approach gained traction as a method to actual success.  Many of the larger organizations even split Access Management and Identity Management into strongly separate buckets with their own teams and infrastructure.  Gone are the days where Access Manager and Identity Manager are viewed as the same application.  Today the products are treated as interconnected but individual pieces complimenting each other even when they fall into the same stack.  This can be seen in the job reqs that many organizations release when looking for a technical resource.  5 years back recruiters were still looking for the Jack-of-All trades Engineer/Developer/Architect/PM that knew the SSO, Provisioning, Federation, Role Management and Password Management tools from the 4 different vendors (my personal favorite being when the recruiter would then say a “junior” resource for said position was OK as a method to justify the sub-par rate, as if such a “junior” person existed with that level of knowledge).

The big company buy-up of the old Venture Capital backed firms yielded a greater maturity in the market and a fierce rivalry in the market place.  In fact the biggest players are now Oracle, IBM, CA, Novell, and to a lesser extent BMC and a hard charging Microsoft.  What is interesting though is as of a few years back the next generation of VC based IAM start-ups popped up and we are seeing history repeat itself with the next wave of industry consolidation.

For instance, take a look at the Role Management and Identity Governance market place.

Bridgestream Roles and Vaau RBACx got scooped up by Oracle and Sun and subsequently Vaau won the application war as Oracle’s preferred Role application (under the unfortunately named Identity Analytics banner).

Aveksa and Sailpoint popped up to not only compete in the same space but to offer superior products to manage compliance with HIPAA, SarBox and the like moving beyond solely role management into the governance and compliance management space.

Eventually, as is the case in the IAM space one, one or both companies are likely to be acquired.  Where they will land is open to conjecture but like all Venture Capital based opportunities you are either a resounding success in the sales game or you are a cheap acquisition target.  I have my own guesses as to what comes next for both companies but alas that is a topic for another blog entry.

As for the announcement of Passlogix being acquired, Oracle has a strong set of tools in the space covering all facets of Identity and Access Management.  They are truly becoming the Walmart of the Identity World.