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Risk

7/7/2008
07:21 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Identity Management As A Service

Just before the long July 4 holiday weekend, I had a chance to speak with on-demand identity management start-up Symplified. This vendor is well capitalized and has veteran IdM leadership at its helm. It also wants to "revolutionize" the identity and assessment management (IdM) market. And it just might do so.

Just before the long July 4 holiday weekend, I had a chance to speak with on-demand identity management start-up Symplified. This vendor is well capitalized and has veteran IdM leadership at its helm. It also wants to "revolutionize" the identity and assessment management (IdM) market. And it just might do so.It was just about two months ago when I blogged on why more security vendors should move their offerings to the cloud, or through a SaaS delivery model. It seems the folks behind Symplified would agree.

The benefits of SaaS are now, thanks to the likes of Salesforce.com, well understood. With no servers, databases, or software to install, manage, and update (i.e., patches and upgrades), it's often a much more affordable way to deliver software. And the services model doesn't require six-figure checks be signed before any software has been installed. The theory goes that IT and security managers save time and can focus more energy on keeping their infrastructure secure, and less on managing security software itself. Plus, with each upgrade or fix, all customers are instantly upgraded.

This model has served many software vendors, such as Salesforce, in the CRM market, and Qualys, with its on-demand vulnerability management services, very well.

And if there's any software category that has a hefty amount of hassles that enterprises would like to shrug away, it's identity management, which includes provisioning users to networked resources, managing and keeping directories synced, extending access and authentication rules to partners, suppliers, and customers, as well as the headaches associated with connecting various applications to identity management software.

That's where Symplified steps in. Its on-demand identity service aims to push most of those complexities out of the enterprise and onto Symplified's computing platform. The company, which just received $6 million in funding, provides two options. First, a hosted Identity Cloud, which is essentially a proxy that securely connects multiple identity domains and networks. The other option is an on-premise appliance, which the company has dubbed an Identity Router. The Identity Router acts just like a traditional IP router, only it connects multiple identity domains and networks.

Not only does this model promise to challenge the traditional software IdM delivery model, it also could break the IdM industry's addiction to agents, plug-ins, custom coding, and other hefty customization and integration costs that have burdened large organizations, and put many IdM options out of the financial reach of small and midsized businesses.

When I spoke with Symplified founder, CEO, and chairman Eric Olden last week, he explained how the system links with existing identity stores, such as LDAP, Active Directory, SQL Databases, and Web services, and how the authenticated sessions can be passed from the Web browser out to Web applications.

That's good news for any business struggling not only with its internal identity management systems, but those also wondering how they're going to securely connect with all of those SaaS offerings that seem to be springing up everywhere.

If you've been following the IdM market, you may have recognized Olden's name as an old-timer in the IdM market. He co-founded Securant with Jonti McLaren and was its president from 1995-1999, then CTO and CMO from 2000-2001, until Securant was acquired by RSA in 2001.

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