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11/20/2006
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IBM Unveils ID Management Software For Small Businesses

The company unveiled a scaled-down version of its federated security software that's designed to let authorized users securely access the e-commerce systems used by their vendors and suppliers with a single sign-on name and password.

Online collaboration with trading partners is growing among small businesses, and so is the challenge of keeping such interactions secure. For IBM, that's a market opportunity.

The computing and services company on Monday unveiled a scaled-down version of its federated security software that's designed to let authorized users securely access the e-commerce systems used by their vendors and suppliers with a single sign-on name and password.

The IBM Tivoli Federated Identity Management Business Gateway is a simplified version of a similar product that IBM sells to large enterprises that operate within vast trading networks. The small- and medium-sized business version features a standards-based architecture and reduced pricing, starting at $50,000 per server -- regardless of the number of processors used, according to an IBM spokesman.

The software allows employees, customers, and partners to log on to a company's Web site, get their identity authenticated, and then have that site vouch for their identity so they can gain access to other companies' Web sites and networks without having to log on again, IBM says.

The system adheres to Web services protocols and will interact with all identity management systems that support the Security Assertion Markup Language standard. "It ensures that both ends of the pipe will be speaking the same language no matter what product your partners are using," says Venkat Raghavan, IBM's program director for security, policy, and compliance products.

IBM says it's expecting big demand for products that ease collaboration for small and medium-sized businesses, which often need to interact with much larger suppliers and business customers. The company says its survey of more than 1,000 small and medium-sized business executives revealed that facilitating collaboration across employees, partners, and suppliers is a top business challenge.

That could help IBM further boost Tivoli sales, which grew a whopping 44% in the third quarter. EMC, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems also are staking a claim to the federated identity management market.

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