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Oracle-Sun union means tough decisions on ID management

Product lineups shows many overlaps

By , Network World
April 20, 2009 05:15 PM ET

Network World - Oracle will have to make some significant product decisions and integration plans to address the overlap it has with Sun in terms of identity management software, according to experts.

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Oracle agreed on Monday to buy Sun for $7.4 billion. After the deal closes, the real work of integrating the companies will follow, including rationalizing a laundry list of identity software.

Both Sun and Oracle for years have been acquiring identity companies, integrating software and developing products to move themselves up the ranks in such identity management areas as access management, provisioning, directories, identity administration and federation.

The two are listed among the Top 5 identity management vendors as judged by consulting firm Burton Group. IBM, CA and Novell are the other three.

"There is enormous overlap and there are going to be some tough questions there for Oracle," says Jamie Lewis, president of the Burton Group. "Customers are going to be concerned where their future lies."

Lewis says the most significant overlap is in terms of provisioning and access management.

In 2005, Oracle acquired Thor in part to counter Sun's 2003 acquisition of provisioning vendor Waveset. The acquisition of Thor's provisioning tools marked Oracle's first serious entry into building an identity management platform that is now part of its Fusion middleware lineup.

Oracle and Sun also butt heads in regards to access management, where Oracle acquired Oblix in 2005 and Sun is working with its in-house developed Sun Access Manager (now part of OpenSSO Enterprise, which also includes the former Sun Federation Manager).

Oracle's lineup, in fact, is heavily laden with acquisitions including Phaos in 2004 for federation and OctetString in 2005 for virtual directories. Oracle also acquired Bridgesteam in 2007 for its identity role management capabilities. The technology competes with Sun's Role Manager, which is the fruit of Sun's acquisition of Vaau in 2007.

So the question is not only how to integrate technology from Sun and Oracle not originally designed to work together, but also how to integrate the cornucopia of third-party identity technologies scattered throughout the identity portfolios of both companies.

"Figuring out what stays, what goes, and integrating the remaining pieces is going to be an enormous task that will undoubtedly create consequences for deployed customers," says Andre Duran, CEO of Ping Identity, which develops identity federation software. "This is yet one more reason companies should consider standards-based, loosely coupled approaches, as it insulates them from the potential for single vendor lock-in, which is occurring irrespective of how they are selecting their vendors."

To complicate matters even further, Sun has an aggressive stance on open source that Oracle does not share. Sun is de-emphasizing its Sun Directory Enterprise Edition in favor of putting resources into the OpenDS (Directory Services) platform.

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