Identity Management: Pick Your Vendors Carefully

Managing the identities of many employees and their access rights to a growing number of applications is a 'pain point' for many businesses, says Lindstrom of Spire Security.
It's easy to get confused when shopping for software to manage access rights to applications for employees, customers, and business partners. There's a host of vendors offering identity-management products. Plus, many databases and directories have their own access-control features. And some of the same capabilities can be found in employee-provisioning software and applications to manage access to Web-based apps. "There are a lot of moving parts in identity and access management," says Roberta Witty, a research director at research firm Gartner.

A recent wave of mergers and acquisitions could make things easier for business-technology managers and cut down on the number of vendors they'll need to work with, Witty says. Soon, it may be possible to use a single vendor's products to manage an employee's access rights to networks, systems, applications, and the Web.

Several vendors have acquired provisioning capabilities. Sun Microsystems bought Waveset Technologies, which offers provisioning software, to bolster its identity-management platform. Web-access identity-management vendor Netegrity Inc. acquired Business Layers, which makes provisioning software, in December for $42.5 million. Netegrity customers can use its SiteMinder and IdentityMinder applications to manage the workflow and provisioning of internal apps as well as Web access.

In 2002, IBM bought Access360, which makes provisioning software, to enhance its Tivoli identity-management suite with increased automation of user-account creation and modification requests. Last year, Hewlett-Packard acquired Baltimore Technologies plc's SelectAccess identity-management application and added it to its Adaptive Management software portfolio.

The ongoing industry consolidation comes as sales of identity-management software continue to grow. Research firm the Yankee Group predicts that sales will hit $3.3 billion in 2008, up from $2.3 billion last year.

Managing the identities of many employees and their access rights to a growing number of applications is a "pain point" for many businesses, says Pete Lindstrom, research director of Spire Security. He predicts further consolidation as vendors try to offer a complete suite of identity-management software that also can manage password synchronization and resets, as well as add, delete, and modify user-access rights to internal and external applications.

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Illustration by Viktor Koen

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