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2010 #GartnerIAM – the rise of identity intelligence

November 22, 2010 1 comment

If you attended Gartner’s IAM Summit in San Diego last week, you may have a few lumps on your head. They’re from being beaten over the head with the identity intelligence stick. Earl Perkins led a charge up the slope of business importance for identity management that hopes to secure it a place in the highest levels of business intelligence and decision support. I’m all for it. One thing that was said on stage more than once was that if the IAM professionals of the world keep concentrating their efforts on plumbing like provisioning connectors they are going to be out of a job as vendors make those bits of pipe commodity. A bit melodramatic, but not entirely untrue. But what didn’t float down from the high minded discussion on stage was a clear set of examples for this identity intelligence. Even in the final session of the conference’s second day, the audience was asking in several forms for the panel of analysts to give some clear use cases. And in the very last session folks commented that they felt like most of this intelligence stuff was too high minded to use in practice. Of course, it’s not really fair to ask for all that. Partly because it’s not the place of the analysts to put things into a final form and partially because it breaks their business model to give you the whole picture in the conference. The conference is that start of a process they would like to draw you into – a process the people who can’t see it all clearly probably need more than those who can.

I think intelligence, on every level of IT and security and especially in the world of IAM, is poised to make a big impact. It only makes sense. The technology is there to do it. Intelligence is all about saving time and effort, which means saving money. There is no better time for money saving ideas than right now. Some in the hallways were very unconvinced. But it reminded me of the quote from Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” I’d say the majority of the people in the halls were somewhere between the ignoring and the ridiculing. Few seemed prepared to fight. And just a handful came by the Quest booth asking about that label “Identity Intelligence” on our signs like it was a good thing. We’ll be rolling out our vision of a way to apply intelligence to IAM soon enough. And the idea that there is too much emphasis on plumbing is exactly the right mindset. Those seeking use cases really ought to look in the pantheon of classics. Because intelligence won’t be about doing different things in most cases. It will be about doing the same things in a better way. Intelligence will also deliver on goals in IAM project plans that, in the past, seldom became reality.

Not every session was focused on the intelligence theme. The sessions with Bob Blakley and Lori Rowland were much more practical, of course, having the Burton Group spin to them. My personal favorite session was one presented by Perry Carpenter called “Innovative Plumbing: Five Out-of-the-Box Ideas for Leveraging Your IAM Investment in Unexpected Ways“. Perry took the audience through some counter-intuitive sounding pieces of advice that were very practical. You can get the slides online, but the gist of the list was this:

  • use a virtual directory for easier migrations & application development
  • use ESSO usage statistics to provide BI/DSS for roles & provisioning
  • save on cost with identity graveyard outside directories where you’re paying per user fees
  • use your web proxy to deliver policy detail that explains effects of bad behavior like malware just in time as users commit out of policy offenses

All of it is sound advice. It all stresses something we don’t hear enough in IAM – KISS (keep it simple stupid).

Identity Vendor Soup – Gartner IAM Summit 2009 part 1

November 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Since there is so much to say about Gartner IAM Summit 2009, I wanted to break it up a bit. The first thing I wanted to do was get the vendor stuff out of the way. When I get to the topical stuff I’m sure some vendors will be involved, but there is much to say about what happened in exhibition hall.

Possibly the most talked about thing on the floor was the size comparison of the Oracle and Sun booths. Oracle had the biggest possible booth and, predictably, Sun had the very smallest. Sun was literally on the far wall alongside niche players and new entrants. Of course this just makes sense, but everyone was talking about it. I should have taken pictures. To add to this drama, the announcement about the EU’s objections to the merger was made while we were at the show and that just set people off talking about it all again after the booth comparison finally died down. The most sensible thoughts were all centered around the wisdom that it would be years before anything really happened to Sun’s IAM offerings. In fact, Gartner even said as much during the session about the magic quadrant. Yet many people were convinced, all wisdom aside, that this merger was going to be about Oracle raking Sun customers over the coals.

Aside from the Oracle and Sun drama, the show floor was not too exciting. Gartner always has a way of making sure their clients know the show is all about them – this time was no exception. All the booths were in the basement. That said, they only served lunch and drinks by the booths; so there was a captive audience at times. It seemed to me, watching the other attendees, that most folks didn’t really spend a lot of time talking to vendors. From my place in the center of the floor at the Quest booth, I could see pretty much everything. There was only 6 hours of booth time, and I’d say only half of that was really about vendor time (the other half was eating time). The people who came to our booth were either interested in something very specific, or on a mission to talk to everyone a bit and get the lay of the land.

The busiest booth seemed to be Aveksa’s. Sailpoint and Cyber-Ark got some good traffic, too. No surprises there. They are all in the sweet spots of their fields. The only booths I couldn’t see were Oracle and Novell. Of course, those were the biggest booths and they were right at the entrance of the floor. I’m assuming they got some good traffic just because of that.

It seemed to me the best user/vendor interactions were side meetings, which there were tons of, and the use cases that the vendors sponsored. That’s one of the very cool things about Gartner’s shows. The user is in the focus and everything is designed to make sure that it stays that way.

Next post in a few days (or sooner) and it will concentrate on what I took away from the sessions.

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