Oracle Plays Catch-Up in Identity Access Market

Updated: News Analysis: Oracle is making up for lost time with a double buy of virtual directory and provisioning players. But it's still behind when it comes to integration, analysts say.

Oracle Corp., late to the game when it comes to identity access management, is making up for lost time with its Wednesday announcement of a double buy.

The database colossus announced it is purchasing two companies: Thor Technologies Inc., maker of cross-platform provisioning technologies, and OctetString Inc., maker of virtual directory software.

Oracle didnt mention dollar amounts for the purchase of either private company. But the small outfits are likely tidbits in the vast gullet of Oracle, which has spent some $19 billion during the course of its two-year shopping spree.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read about Oracles CFO troubles.

Jonathan Penn, an analyst for Forrester Research Inc., said the technology additions will now boost Oracle to the rank of major player in the IDM (identity management) market.

"The combined set of products obtained through the acquisition form a J2EE-based [Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition] portfolio that is highly flexible, [with a] flexible administrative model, flexible role model, flexible data model [and] flexible connector architecture," he said in an e-mail exchange.

Oracle is picking up enhanced provisioning with Thor. Oracle Xellerate Identity Provisioning—formerly Thor Xellerate—allows organizations to manage user-access rights and privileges throughout the provisioning life cycle and across diverse IT environments.

With the OctetString technology, Oracle is gaining virtual directory technology that allows for multi-directory consolidation, password integration across directories and directory proxy capabilities—all features that help to accelerate identity management and other application deployment.

It also gives Oracle hot-pluggable capabilities for Oracle applications so they can coax identity data out of existing enterprise databases and directories. The technology, OctetString Virtual Directory Engine, will be rebranded as Oracle Virtual Directory.

The products are available now through Oracle under their original names, and the rebranded products will be available by years end.

The purchases are another milestone in Oracles transitional strategy in the space, said Phil Schacter, vice president of Security and Identity Management for the Burton Group.

Up until eight months ago, when Oracle purchased Oblix, a maker of secure ID software, the company had focused its IDM efforts internally, Schacter said.

"In the past, [Oracles technologies] were primarily there to support Oracle applications," he said. "It was very platform-specific, mostly. They had directory technology and a couple of other bits and pieces internally, [such as] some single sign-on. But [it was] not a major heterogeneous play."

/zimages/6/28571.gifThe Oblix buy was key to broadening Oracles focus. Click here to read more.

Oracle underwent a sea change in the months leading up to the Oblix acquisition, finally deciding that becoming an IDM player was core to its success as a portal and applications company, Schacter said.

It wasnt hard to find inspiration: Oracles cohort was making tracks toward offering IDM tools for enterprises, and Oracle was being left in the dust.

To wit: As far back as 2002, IBM purchased Access360. In November 2003, Sun Microsystems Inc. purchased Waveset Technologies.

In October 2004, Computer Associates International Inc. announced it would buy identity management vendor Netegrity Inc. Then BMC Software Inc. picked up IDM vendor Calendra for $33 million in January 2005, and then it turned around and bought OpenNetwork Technologies in March 2005—the same month Oracle announced the Oblix buy.

Next Page: Oracles challenge is integration.