Oracles Challenge Is Integration
With Wednesdays announced acquisitions, Oracle now has several Tier-1 IDM products, Penn said. The problem now, though, is that the company is late to the game. Where its competition has integrated products in place, Oracle is still putting the pieces together.Hasan Rizvi, vice president for Identity Management at Oracle, told Ziff Davis Internet News in an interview following Oracles news briefing on the acquisitions that customers arent all that concerned about integration anywayas long as theyve got the best point products out there. "From our experience talking to customers, theyre more focused on having best-of-breed technology available to them, and not [as] concerned that they have two consoles to [run it on]," Rizvi said. "So the first thing is to make sure [the stand-alone products] are bulletproof in terms of installation, life-cycle management," and other areas, such as availability and quality, he said. With customers buying those best-of-breed products on their own and stitching it all together, they have no way of knowing whether it all works together well, he said. "Theyre the ones testing it. Theyre the first ones to put it together, the first one to test it, the one to find problems," he said. Thus, the first level of security is to give customers pre-tested, pre-certified solutions, to reduce the complexity of putting it together themselves, Rizvi said. The second priority is ironing out the interface and console issue, which is "not [the primary] focus from the customer perspective," he said. The Burton Groups Schacter wasnt so sure on that point, however. "Customers are living with multiple interfaces now," he said. "Would they like to reduce the amount of interfaces? Yeah, they would. And going with a single vendor is getting consolidation a single support number. And a single place to go to find the audit records would be nice." There is value for Oracle in these acquisitions beyond the IDM market opportunity, Penn said. "These products can help provide a bridge for co-existence or migration between Oracle Business Suite environments and enterprise applications that it has acquired," he said. Still, Oracle is faced with the challenge of presenting a unique value proposition attractive enough to the CISOs, CIOs and security and application architects, he said. "It will not be adequate for Oracle just to try to leverage its place in the enterprise application market," Penn said. "Nor will it be enough to go after Oracle customers, who are also customers of Sun, IBM or CA anyway. So theres a lot of work on messaging, marketing and visionary-type identity management ahead for Oracle." Oracle claims that with the purchases of Thor and OctetString, on top of its earlier Oblix buy, the real differentiator is the breadth of Oracles suite. As far as claiming to have the best feature set goes, Schacter said that to his knowledge, Oracle still lacks single sign-on, at least for the mainframe. Wynn White, senior director of Oracle Identity Management & Security Marketing, said Oracle does have single sign-on, thanks to the Oblix purchase. "Oracles product Oracle COREid Access and Identity delivers Web apps [single sign-on] and, in fact, is an industry leader," he said. But when it comes to enterprise single sign-on, Oracle is still working on it, he said. "This is more of a niche access control offering for legacy applications," he said. "Oracles stated direction is similar to many of our competitors in this space and that is why we partner with key providers of this technology to deliver this solution to our customers." Feature list claims aside, IBM is still the one to beat with its Tivoli line, and CA is right up there with its eTrust line and its Netegrity purchase, Schacter said. Bob Maddy, vice president of IBMs Tivoli strategy, said Oracle has it all wrong anyway. "Theyre not really solving the customers core problem," he said. "What they dont need is more silos of management. People who are doing identity and access, how do you tie all that information to the underlying infrastructure? They have no technology in this space. Its all manual with their tools." Oracles White challenged Maddys assessment, pointing to the virtual directory technology from OctetString as the piece that will serve to pull disparate identity data together, whether that data comes from individual applications, various directories spread through the enterprise or databases. "Our suite approach to identity management enables us to centralize the management of identity information that leverages common identity data and common identity management processesi.e., workflow, etc. Thats the beauty of the suite," he said. This is the end goal all enterprises are working for with IDM, White said. While Oracle wont have such a solution overnight, he said, its something the company is driving toward, as is obvious from the nature of the companys acquisitions. Editors Note: This story was updated to include additional comments from Oracle. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.
"Most big competitors made their acquisitions 12 to 24 months ago, and these are mostly, if not completely, integrated already," Penn said. "The full integration of [Oracles] products probably wont happen until early 2007."