Oracle joins rush to acquire identity tools

Oblix buy furthers consolidation trend; vendor gains non-Oracle ID capabilities

Oracle Corp.'s purchase of Oblix Inc. for an undisclosed sum last week is part of a movement among major IT vendors to address growing user demand for identity and access management software, analysts said.

The acquisition gives Oracle a range of software supporting capabilities, such as single sign-on and federated identity management. Cupertino, Calif.-based Oblix has about 100 employees and claims to have more than 150 customers, including The Boeing Co., Burger King Corp. and The Coca-Cola Co.

The Oblix software complements a set of tools that Oracle already sells and will allow it to offer users identity management functionality for non-Oracle applications, middleware and databases, said Thomas Kurian, a senior vice president at the software vendor. That includes the PeopleSoft and J.D. Edwards applications that Oracle acquired earlier this year, Kurian said.

Positive Results for Users

Purchases of so-called boutique vendors such as Oblix by larger, more well-established companies usually have positive results for users, said an IT manager at a large travel-industry company that uses Oblix's technology.

"The tools mature technically and functionally due to increased funding," said the IT manager, who asked not to be identified. "And it allows us to better leverage the relationships already established with our larger long-term vendors."

Oracle's acquisition plays into a growing corporate interest in tools that combine access control for Web applications with functions for administering the separate identity credentials associated with legacy applications running on mainframes and other systems, said Roberta Witty, an analyst at Gartner Inc.

"The need to comply with regulations is forcing identity and access management to the forefront at every organization," Witty said, referring to the mandates of laws such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Oracle is the latest in a line of large vendors that have added to their identity management capabilities through acquisitions.

On March 23, BMC Software Inc. announced that it had bought OpenNetwork Technologies Inc., a Clearwater, Fla.-based vendor of Web access-control and single sign-on tools, for an undisclosed price.

That followed a January 25 deal in which BMC acquired Calendra, a Paris-based developer of federated identity management software, for $33 million in cash.

Computer Associates International Inc. purchased Waltham, Mass.-based identity management vendor Netegrity Inc. for $430 million last November. And last week, CA said it had bought software for identifying and deleting obsolete or rogue user IDs on mainframes from InfoSec Inc. in North Barrington, Ill. The two companies didn't divulge the purchase price.

In addition, IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. have all made identity-related purchases over the past two years.

"Clearly, ID management is becoming a big-company market," said Phil Schacter, an analyst at Burton Group in Midvale, Utah. He added that small vendors "have difficulty growing fast and investing in the marketing infrastructure to be able to compete with the likes of CA and IBM."

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ID Check

The Oblix deal gives Oracle the following technologies:

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COREid Offers identity management functions, including Web-based single sign-on, user self-registration and user provisioning.

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SHAREid Supports federated identity management.

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COREsv Manages access to Web services.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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