Thor takes a stab at best of breed provisioning

* Provisioning: Best of breed from multiple suppliers or homogenous suite from a single vendor?

Over the past few weeks, I've been (it seems) incessantly talking about provisioning and the fact that most of the major players in the provisioning space have taken the acquisition route (that is, they've been acquired) within the past couple of years. I've opined that this is a good thing because provisioning needs to be tightly coupled with all other aspects of identity management and that the independent, stand-alone provisioning companies simply don't have the resources to offer a complete identity management package.

Still, the argument will always rage as to whether it's better to purchase best of breed products from several vendors or a homogenous suite from a single vendor. One company hoping you'll go the best of breed route is Thor Technologies.

Thor has been in the provisioning business since before most technology vendors even knew there was such a thing as "identity management." The provisioning business Thor was in was the old-style telco provisioning - setting up and tearing down phone connections. Still, Thor easily migrated to "identity provisioning" a few years ago as the techniques and methods were remarkably similar.

Thor claims to be the last of the independent provisioning companies (Opennetwork at http://www.opennetwork.com/ might argue that, although Opennetwork does offer what it claims, at least, is a full suite of identity management tools). Thor points to a recent infusion of new venture capitol as one sign that a stand-alone best of breed company is still viable.

I recently spent a bit of phone time with Nishant Kaushik, Thor's product architect; John Aisien, vice president of business development; and Ranjeet Vidwans, product manager. They tried to convince me that a) the company is viable and b) Thor's approach is better than other vendors'. (And thanks go to PR artiste extraordinaire Liz Safran for putting us all together.)

I'll get to the "approach" discussion in the next issue (it's the old SQL vs. LDAP debate) but today I'll just say a word or two about "best of breed" and Thor's "viability."

The problem with using a best of breed argument, at least for the situation Thor is in, is that three things have to happen:

1) Thor has to get in the door to talk to the decision maker. That's a lot easier for, say, IBM or Sun which have both name-recognition and a provisioning component to their identity management systems. Thor counters by partnering with well-known organizations such as Accenture or RSA.http://www.mycroftinc.com/) that can showcase a full panoply of identity management products while ensuring that they will all work together.

2) You have to convince the decision maker that cobbling together a best of breed identity management solution is desirable and cost-effective. Thor will lead a potential client to a solution provider (such as Mycroft,

3) If Thor gets to see the decision maker and if it convinces her that best of breed is the way to go, then all Thor has to do is further convince her that its product is the "best of breed" for provisioning.

It's not an easy task, and it could be that the venture capitol firms didn't buy that argument, either. It could be, instead, that they feel Thor is ripe for becoming the next provisioning company to be acquired.

Learn more about this topic

RSA Security teaming with Thor Technologies

Network World Fusion, 06/02/03

Sun, Thor team on identity management

IDG News Service, 04/28/03

Options shrink for ID management

Network World, 01/26/04

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