Oracle Makes Secure Web Access Management Push

The Oracle identity and access management bundle is a shot at securing Web-based cloud environments better than Oracle rivals Sun, CA, IBM and Novell.

Oracle has bundled together a suite of access management products in a bid to help enterprises secure their Web-based environments and to challenge its main rivals in the space.

The new offering is called Oracle Access Management Suite, and combines Oracle Access Manager, Adaptive Access Manager, Identity Federation and Entitlements Server into one integrated suite, with each also being sold separately. The plan, according to officials at Oracle, is to distance the company from competitors by targeting Web-based architectures with a broad, integrated collection of products.

"A large number of our customers ... use the Web as a channel to deliver services to their communities, which could be consumers, partners, students and employees," said Amit Jasuja, vice president of identity management at Oracle. "For them security and the cost of delivering security is an important concern. With the suite, we're offering our customers an integrated approach that can lower the cost and complexity of the solution and deliver a higher level of security."

The Web focus provides several key benefits, Jasuja explained, such as real-time theft prevention through continuous session monitoring, the use of single sign-on for all Web applications and standards-based cross-company boundary single sign-on for partners that are Web-based service providers.

Of the four products, Oracle Entitlements Server (PDF) is the only new entry to the company's product lineup. The product was acquired from BEA Systems, where it was called BEA AquaLogic Enterprise Security. According to Oracle, Entitlements Server enables application developers to externalize and centralize authorization policies that previously would have been embedded within applications. The product supports a number of environments, including Oracle WebLogic Server, Microsoft .NET Framework and IBM WebSphere Application Server.

"What this set of products does provide early indication of is how access decisions are going to move away from being based solely on static account privileges within applications," said Forrester Research analyst Jonathan Penn. "These decisions will move to a more centralized environment-the entitlements management system-where real-time data regarding user context and other information will contribute to the decision-making."

Challenge to Competition

In tying all these products together, Oracle is issuing a challenge to its main competitors in the identity and access management space, which include Sun Microsystems, IBM, CA and Novell. Jasuja contends that none of the other companies can offer as broad a product suite as Oracle. However, CA, for example, has made a push around Web access management with its Secure Web Business Enablement suite through products such as CA SiteMinder Web Access Manager, which includes Web SSO (single sign-on) and entitlements management.

"From a marketing and customer acquisition perspective, [Oracle has] moved aggressively against Sun and IBM," said Gartner analyst Earl Perkins. "I don't know that these particular capabilities are differentiating enough, but it does expand their portfolio into areas that Sun and IBM haven't addressed comprehensively."

Oracle's move comes as analysts continue to predict the growth of the identity and access management market, which according to estimates from Forrester Research should hit $12.3 billion by 2014. Enterprises, Perkins said, are seeking a means of addressing complex federation requirements as they delve further into the Web and its services.

"The fine-grained entitlements server is a significant step in addressing a common approach to externalizing authorization decisions from applications rather than embedding them as most enterprise apps do," Perkins said. "This is a required step in preparing for SOA [service-oriented architecture] secure access going forward."