Oracle buys Oblix for ID mgmt.

As a result of continued consolidation, the identity management market is taking on a whole new identity.

Oracle's $93 million acquisition of Oblix last week is the latest example of an independent identity-management product vendor becoming part of a larger software vendor.

"Clearly the big boys are all getting positioned to compete in the large integrated suite space," says one Oblix customer who asked not to be named.

While industry observers' opinions differ on whether identity management and security, systems and other management tools will be sold together in suites, they agree that integration among all these technologies is happening. The identity management portion of such suites would include tools for functions such as Web access management, provisioning, identity federation and password management.

The rush by major vendors to buy or build identity management platforms has been driven by the growing importance of such technology to customers looking to secure their digital resources and distributed applications, and comply with regulatory legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley.

BMC Software, Computer Associates, HP, IBM, Microsoft and Sun are among other companies that have at least in part bought their way into this field. Other big-name companies, such as Novell and RSA , mostly are developing software in-house.

In buying Oblix, Oracle is obtaining Web access management, identity federation and Web services management software. The acquisition helps Oracle fill out its identity lineup, which it plans to deeply integrate with its enterprise applications business, recently acquired PeopleSoft.

Also last week, CA bought technology from InfoSec that automates the elimination of old user accounts and other outdated identity information from corporate systems. CA last year bought Netegrity, another company in this market.

While the pace of consolidation has been steady the past two years, specialized companies in this market have been getting bought out since 1999, when Microsoft acquired Zoomit, a meta-directory product company. Zoomit's software has morphed into Microsoft Identity Integration Server, one of the cornerstones of the company's identity strategy.

Senior Editor Denise Dubie contributed to this story.

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