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Waveset gives thanks to Sun

Nov 24, 20034 mins
Access ControlEnterprise Applications

* What the industry thinks of Sun's planned acquisition of Waveset

Officials from Waveset and Sun are probably spending the Thanksgiving celebrations here in the U.S. by giving thanks to their companies’ planned merger, which was announced last week. Well, maybe “merger” is a bit strong – Sun is acquiring Waveset (the deal should close by year-end). It’s a great deal for Sun and a necessary one for Waveset.

Sun has been involved in the identity business for quite some time, but there has been a great deal of fluidity (such as the various name changes to its identity products over the years – from iPlanet through Sun ONE on to Java Enterprise Identity, etc.).

The one gaping hole in Sun’s identity offerings – which otherwise are very complete – was electronic provisioning. Not that Sun wasn’t involved in that space – it had (and, presumably still has) technology partnerships with Business Layers, Thor Technologies, Oblix and almost every other company offering a provisioning solution (except, of course, Novell and IBM-Tivoli).

Novell maintains its homegrown electronic provisioning solution (while still partnering its eDirectory with other e-provisioning vendor products). IBM-Tivoli acquired e-provisioning heavyweight Access360 a little over a year ago and appears to have integrated it fairly well with the rest of its identity products and services. Microsoft just recently announced its own e-provisioning initiative, although implementation details are still rather sketchy.

Waveset rose to the top of the heap, according to many observers, with little room to grow without the backing of a major player in the Fortune 100 space. It partnered with Sun and evidently the courtship went so well both companies decided to “forsake all others” and tie the knot.

IBM and Novell had no comment on the move, but Waveset competitors Business Layers, Thor and Oblix did at least make statements.

Trying to put the best possible spin on the move, Thor’s CEO, Alberto Yepez, claims that not only does the merger validate the importance of e-provisioning but that it also reduces the competition for customers who desire a “best of breed” (rather than a single vendor) solution for their identity needs. Yepez points to his company’s partnership with RSA and Accenture as offering a best of breed solution, which Sun might have difficulty challenging. 

Business Layers’ CEO, Izhar Shay, also sees the move (following, as it does, on the IBM-Access360 merger) as validating e-provisioning. He might have added, although he didn’t, that Business Layer’s technology partners (which also include RSA and Accenture) make a veritable “who’s who” of the identity, security, directory and consulting industries.

Oblix’ Vice President of Products and Technology, Prakash Ramamurthy actually thought the merger would be good for Oblix, since it should increase the number of sites using Sun’s Java Enterprise Identity services with which Oblix’ NetPoint products tightly integrate. Since the company has recently been closely aligned with Microsoft on identity management and Web services, the potential loss of Sun as a strategic partner doesn’t seem to be a big problem.

Mike Turner, Mark McClain, Kevin Cunningham and Bill Kennedy left the high-pressure world of IBM-Tivoli to found Waveset. Let’s hope that getting back into the grasp of one of the world’s largest technology companies doesn’t stifle them. Sun’s Steve Pelletier – vice president network identity, communication and portal products – did tell me that the company hoped to keep the entire Waveset team together and to give it more – and more interesting – responsibilities in the identity management space. That would be good for everyone. All opinions on this acquisition are welcome, though, so send me an e-mail.

EDITOR’s NOTE: Due to the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday we will be sending just one newsletter this week. Regular service will resume next week. We wish you and your family a happy Thanksgiving.