Learning about identity management learning opportunities

* Trade show recommendations for identity management users

I had a note from a reader a few weeks ago which, I think, asks a question that could be of interest to many of you. Lance Peterman wrote to get a recommendation. Not of a product, I hasten to add, but of a conference.

He wrote: “The reason I'm writing is that there may prove to be an opportunity for myself to attend a conference related to IAM [identity and access management] in the near future. What I would like to solicit is your opinion as to which one would be best for my overall experience. Our company is very new to this space and will be starting with very little already in place as far as implementing an IAM suite.” He then noted his company’s area and his previous experience with identity issues. Now I’ve noted in the past that there are differences among the major (and minor – but minor only in terms of the number of attendees) conferences and that while some of us are blessed (or cursed) with the need and/or ability to attend most, many people are limited in the amount of money their employers are willing to spend on what some bean counters still see as “junkets”.

Since I’ve recently started adding an “upcoming events” section to some (but not all) issues of the newsletter this seems like an ideal time to focus some events and who they might benefit.

Right at the top of the list are user conferences. Events like Courion’s Converge conference or the now, alas, defunct Technical Advisory Council meetings that Thor Technologies used to throw before it was sucked up by Oracle. If you’re using an identity product and the vendor offers an annual meeting for users, then by all means plan to attend. This is true not only for the specialist vendors, such as Courion, which are involved exclusively with identity issues but also for the more generalist organizations such as Oracle, Novell, Sun, RSA, CA and Microsoft. With the bigger companies, though, check the agenda for their meeting before committing to go. If, for example, Novell’s BrainShare agenda shows a very heavy emphasis on Linux with only a token representation for Identity Manager then you might be better off skipping that show and going to one of the big identity focused events.

The big events are the Burton Group’s Catalyst Conference, Digital ID World and (possibly) the Gartner Group’s Identity Summit. I say “possibly” for the Gartner event because there’s only been one held so far and it didn’t get terrific reviews. Let’s contrast that event with Catalyst.

Both the Identity Summit and Catalyst are primarily put on for the consulting organizations’ existing and potential clients. The difference, to me, is that anyone interested in identity can learn something at Catalyst while the Identity Summit has yet to prove that it can bring value to non-Gartner clients.

Catalyst, though, might be overwhelming to the identity novice. The pace is much quicker than would be comfortable for someone needing an introductory level approach.

Digital ID World offers opportunities to novices as well as jaded veterans. It offers a better set of trade show exhibits for those looking to see what’s available in the market place. There are also the user group meetings (Federation and Virtual Directory are two that are offered) which can be quite useful. Still, the experienced identity professional will probably learn more at Catalyst.

For those who need to concentrate on the underlying directory architecture and its uses NetPro’s Directory Experts Conference should fill the bill, while anyone with an interest in Web-based simplified sign-on, as embodied by the term “user-centric” identity, needs to attend – at least once a year – an Internet Identity Workshop. In fact, it’s an experience I can commend to all of you to partake of at least once.

But beyond even these there are smaller regional conferences, “summits”, trade shows, and user groups that you can attend which will not only help you learn but also allow you to forge relationships with your peers within both the technology and the geographic area. One example is the Identity Management Forum I spoke at in Sydney last December and the upcoming Identity Access & Security Management conference in Seoul, Korea where I’ll also be speaking in July.

If you know of, or sponsor, identity-related events be sure to drop me a note so that I can keep everyone informed of upcoming activities. There are events that are just right for each of you, but you won’t know that unless you know about them.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.