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HP dives into the identity management space without its own directory service

Mar 15, 20043 mins
Access ControlEnterprise Applications

* HP acquires identity management vendor TruLogica

When it comes to acquisitions and mergers in the identity niche, I’ve said that “the other shoe dropped” so often that some people think I must be talking about a centipede. But, another shoe dropped last week when HP (doesn’t anyone say Hewlett-Packard any more?) announced plans to acquire TruLogica of Dallas, the less than three-year-old company still looked upon as a barely-crawling-on-their-own start-up in the identity management space.

TruLogica’s product, Concero, is described as a “Contextual Identity Services Platform,” which provides provisioning management, audit and reporting, password management, and delegated administration.  The element of context in an identity management product is rare (see, and it’s to be hoped that HP will continue to emphasize that part of the technology, but I wonder.

HP, under the leadership of Carly Fiorina (check for my thoughts on her leadership) has striven mightly to escape its legacy printer and scientific instrument heritage. The company wants to be like the other major hardware and software players (IBM, Sun, Microsoft, Novell, etc.). One thing these other players had that HP didn’t have was an identity management product with user management and provisioning features. Buying TruLogica gives HP that expertise. But there’s something else HP is missing that’s present in the other players in the “provisioning as identity management” space – an in-house controlled directory service.

IBM has Tivoli Directory Server (formerly called SecureWay), Sun has its Java System (formerly Sun ONE, formerly iPlanet, formerly Netscape) Directory Server, Microsoft has Active Directory and Novell has eDirectory. But HP doesn’t have a directory server to call its own. There are versions of eDirectory and OpenLDAP that run on HP’s Unix offering, HP/UX. You can also run eDirectory on HP’s NetWare and Linux servers or run either eDirectory or Active Directory (or both) on HP servers sporting a Windows operating system. What HP doesn’t have, though, is a homegrown directory system and that could be a problem when trying to integrate the TruLogica technology.

It has been rumored that Concero will be part of HP’s OpenView systems, which could be seen as similar to IBM’s choice of the Tivoli division to host its identity products. But – even more than Tivoli – OpenView is regarded as a monitoring system for networks, not an administrator’s management tool.

While it’s way too early to judge if this move is good for HP or good for identity management consumers (it’s probably quite good for TruLogica and its investors), we should remember that even three years on HP hasn’t fully integrated its purchase of Compaq (and Compaq never did finish integrating its purchase of Digital). That’s a lot of unfinished integration.

Hey, maybe that’s what happened: HP needed software to help it manage identity for the almost-integrated behemoth it had become and said it wanted to purchase Concero. While Carly may have meant to purchase licenses to use Concero, before you could say “wham, bam” someone did say “thank you, ma’am” and here’s the keys to the office! Stranger things have happened.