Sun Microsystems Talks Identity Access Management Strategy

Sun Microsystems, one of the leaders in the identity and access management space, spoke to eWEEK about some of its plans for 2009. Customers can expect moves around single sign-on technology and a continuation of efforts to reduce complexity.

Sun Microsystems wants to make a push in the competitive identity and access management market with an emphasis on reducing complexity and expanding the use of single sign-on technology.

IAM (identity and access management) is one of the fastest growing segments of security. Analyst firm IDC predicted by 2012 the IAM market - which includes everything from single sign-on to risk and entitlement management products - will stand at $5.33 billion, with a compound annual growth rate of around 11 percent between 2008 and 2012.

Besides Sun, the list of big players in the market include companies such as Oracle, IBM and CA. The fragmented nature of the space means there is an opportunity for companies to make a move.

Still, like many companies, Sun has been forced to make layoffs, leaving some observing the space to wonder how that will impact its IAM business.

"The biggest challenge for Sun in any market right now is their financial woes," said Lori Rowland, an analyst with the Burton Group. "From a competitive stand-point I believe Sun's biggest challenge will be building their portfolio at the rate Oracle, CA, and IBM are. These vendors have made numerous acquisitions. Sun may not have the resources to build or buy technologies and thus may have a difficult time competing feature to feature in the future. Also Sun is losing momentum to the marketing and sales engines of Oracle and IBM."

While officials at Sun would not talk about how the layoffs have or have not affected their IAM business, they emphasized the company remains committed to its portfolio and will continue to invest in the technology.

"We are focused on making Sun's entire IAM product line simpler to use, open and more scalable," said Mark Herring, vice president of Software Infrastructure marketing at Sun. "Customers [are] looking to extend their IAM solutions to provide access management, auditing, provisioning, reporting and attestation across all the constituents and across all the applications and systems in their organizations."

Part of its strategy lies in enterprise single sign-on. Sun is working with Passlogix and ActivIdentity to establish deeper technical integration across Sun's products. Enterprises can expect enhancements to Sun's identity management offerings around SSO later this year, Herring said.

Another key part of Sun's approach to simplifying identity implementations lies in composite reusable services. Right now, the company is in the process of re-architecting its products so that all underlying components are developed as composite, reusable services. The idea is to allow Sun to build the components once and leverage them across the entire portfolio - for example, building logging as a common service that is leveraged by all products.

When it comes to reducing complexity, Sun has looked to enhance the user interface for several of its products. The company plans to continue this effort in the next version of Identity Manager, which will have a complete interface overhaul to reduce the need for workflow customization.

"We believe our unique value add to this market is our proven leadership with a large set of very happy customers," Herring said. "Our team is dedicated to helping our customers attack the complexity of identity issues with simplicity."