Acquisition Helps Oracle Bust Out of Oracle-Only Identity Management

The purchase of identity management vendor Oblix will enable Oracle to cater to heterogeneous shops, rather than the Oracle-only customers to which it has catered.

While Oracle Corp. has long been a player in the identity management market, on Monday it busted out of the straitjacket of catering to its own customers by announcing it would buy technology to let it support whatever heterogeneous mixes customers bring to the table.

To that end, Oracle is buying electronic identity management and secure Web access software provider Oblix Inc. for an undisclosed sum, the Redwood Shores, Calif., company announced.

Oblixs identity management products are designed to provide not only secure sign-on to Web portals, but also ongoing security control by monitoring a users identity even once he or she has signed on to a site.

The technology addresses what has become a hot market, thanks in large part to regulatory pressures coming from sources such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Californias privacy act.

"The idea of having accountability, determining who accessed which resources, that you can demonstrate that youve implemented things like separation of duties and those kind of audit controls, is [particularly] important in the government market," said Phil Schacter, vice president of security and identity management at Burton Group, headquartered in Midvale, Utah.

As the market has heated up, so too have acquisitions in this space accelerated.

With Mondays announcement, Oracle joins a gaggle of vendors that are vying to deliver identity management solutions that enterprises can use in heterogeneous environments.

To wit: In October, Computer Associates International Inc. announced it would buy identity management vendor Netegrity Inc. for $430 million in cash.

Similarly, BMC Software Inc. picked up identity management vendor Calendra for $33 million in January.

"Clearly, identity management is starting to become a market for larger companies," Schacter said.

"[Vendors] have to be able to execute in global markets [and] to sell and support these technologies. Big vendors have recognized how important identity management is to the larger platforms and systems management and securities management strategies for their big accounts."

With the acquisition, Oracle will be picking up about 200 Oblix enterprise customers, Schacter said, and the opportunity to acquire far more.

"Oracles goal in acquiring Oblix is more to expand its capabilities to deliver identity management services for more than just the Oracle environment and Oracle customers, but also to be able to support broader enterprise needs—to have identity management that would work with any platform, any application server," he said.

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Larger players in the identity management space include Novell Inc., RSA Security Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc. and, in particular, IBM with its Tivoli product line.

The Oblix purchase is Oracles second identity management acquisition in less than a year. Oracle purchased Phaos Technology Corp. in May 2004, acquiring the potential to provision users across systems—an area also being worked on by the Liberty Alliance.

In July, Oracle joined the Liberty Alliance, a global consortium devoted to developing an open, federated identity standard.

There is little overlap between the Oblix and Phaos acquisitions, Schacter said, although Oblix has implemented some of the same protocols as Phaos.

Whereas Phaos never put an enterprise solution into the market, mostly selling toolkits and OEMing its products to other identity management vendors, Oblix has been in the enterprise market for some four or five years, offering a product line initially focused on Web access management, Web single sign-on and identity administration.

That is primarily the product line that Oracle will integrate with its Identity Management technology, said Schacter, who was briefed on the acquisition last week.

For its part, Oblix acquired Confluent Systems last year.

It picked up Web services management technology in that purchase—technology that Oracle will integrate with its Application Server and Portal products, Schacter said.

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