IBM buys Encentuate: What options do IBM single sign-on customers have at upgrade time?

* Options for IBM identity customers not so clear cut

Now that the dust has settled on IBM's purchase of Encentuate, it's intriguing to speculate on what IBM's current customers - who are using Tivoli Access Manager for Enterprise Single Sign-On (TAM ESSO) - will do when it's time to "upgrade."

The current ESSO in TAM (Version 6) uses technology from Passlogix (even IBM’s own marketing tools refer to it as “Tivoli Access Manager for Enterprise Single Sign-On — the market-leading ESSO solution powered by Passlogix”). One would expect that this will shortly be replaced by ESSO technology from Encentuate – probably as soon as the current licensing agreement between IBM and Passlogix expires, or sooner if there’s a buyout option.

But what will the customers do? They’ll face the choice of staying with IBM but “upgrading” to an unfamiliar product and technology, or staying with the product they know by switching to Passlogix’ V-GO SSO product. The benefit there is that V-GO is a superset of the TAM ESSO, so the customer would get not only the familiar product but also one with enhanced functionality such as Passlogix’ On-Demand Edition and Shared Account Manager.

It’s to be expected that IBM will pull out all the stops to try to make the transition to the Encentuate engine as painless as possible. Nevertheless, there will be differences both in the user interface and in the action of the engine. Moving to V-GO also means a different UI but, most likely, the same or a similar engine.

Then there’s the question of two vendors where there had been one, as well as the traditional “bleed blue” loyalty of IBM customers.

If you’re an IBM TAM ESSO customer I’d like to hear from you – which way are you leaning?

And then there’s those Encentuate customers who don’t want to switch to blue – where will they go?

All this speculation could become moot – or else become a real big deal should Passlogix now become a takeover target. Both Sun and Oracle use Passlogix’ technology (Sun also uses Actividentity as does Novell) for ESSO – both must be wondering if the other will make a move. Sun director of product marketing and product management John Barco tantalized me last week without actually committing to an impending acquisition. I’ll be seeing Oracle’s Vice President of Identity Management and Security Products Hassan Rizvi next week and perhaps I can get him to commit to an impending acquisition. Neither company is shy of a penny when it comes to acquiring technology (Sun’s recent buys of MySQL and Vaau compare to Oracle’s acquisitions of Bharosa and Bridgestream) so it will be interesting to see what happens. Of course, if Oracle snaps up Passlogix then Sun could look to its other ESSO partner, Actividentity, which would make Novell nervous. Is that the sound of dominoes falling?

Events from the IdM Journal event calendar:

* April 16: Build an Identity Compliance Alliance, WebinarManaging Identity in New Zealand, Wellington, New ZealandInternet Identity Workshop, Mountain View, Calif.

* April 29-30:

May 12-14:

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