Oracle, Sun deal brings back the glory days of FUD

* What the Oracle, Sun deal means to identity management customers

Last issue I started talking about the Oracle acquisition of Sun and what it means to the identity management industry and, most importantly, the identity management customers. One issue that cropped up in my conversations with vendors, consultants and users surprised me, since I thought we were well beyond the glory days of FUD.

Last issue I started talking about the Oracle acquisition of Sun and what it means to the identity management industry and, most importantly, the identity management customers. One issue that cropped up in my conversations with vendors, consultants and users (see more results) surprised me, since I thought we were well beyond the glory days of FUD.

Slideshow: Hottest tech M&A deals of 2009

Ashraf Motiwala is the CTO (and Co-founder) of Identropy, a company that specializes in "hand-holding" a client all the way through the process of defining, choosing and integrating an identity management solution. On hearing of the Oracle acquisition of Sun he related this story:

“…a client was seeking an identity solution, and with our help, reduced the vendors to Sun, another large vendor and a small boutique vendor. After their demos/POCs [Proof od Concept], the vendor scoring matrix we helped them put together showed that the boutique vendor actually ended up with the highest score.

“After some great FUD work from the sales folk, the client decided to add a new metric in the matrix for Company Viability. All of a sudden, Sun came out on top...and the solution was purchased and implemented. The whole reason the boutique vendor lost out was because of fear and the likeliness of acquisition or failure, etc.

“A few months later...Sun is on the block, and finally inks a deal. Now I'm hearing that the client is worried about the direction of the Sun product line post-acquisition, because of the heavy overlap between the Sun and Oracle product lines. (And also worried about what Oracle will do to Sun's open source initiatives.)”

I’d thought we’d put that whole “viability” test on the trash heap many years ago. But evidently we haven’t.

<aside> We’re hearing that same FUD about buying General Motors and Chrysler vehicles right now. But, really, does anyone suspect you won’t be able to get a Chevrolet repaired 5 years from now? You can still find parts for a Crosley, for goodness sake, and they haven’t been made for over 50 years!</aside>

When you’re looking to solve a problem, to “scratch an itch” as some say, there is a certain methodology you should follow.

• First, identify the elements of the solution you’d like to find – what should it do.

• Second, survey the available solutions and see which, generally, fit your specification.

• Third, view the demos, and select the finalists.

• Fourth, request a proof of concept from each finalist

• Finally, select the one (or ones) which is/are a “best fit” for you – the one(s) that solves your problem in the least disruptive way.

If, at the end, there are two vendors with virtually identical results you might possibly include a small tie-breaking point for perceived viability. But it’s viability of the product, not the vendor, that you should look at.

To look at this yet another way, Ping Identity’s puckish Andre Durand probably summed it up best when he said:

"Implementing identity management has been difficult enough without customers having to live through the ramifications of two 'fully-integrated' vendor stacks playing the Panda mating game. These days, the use of open standards and loosely coupled architectures are the only way to ensure you have options when you accidentally acquire the vendor you didn't select in the first place."

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