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December 1, 2005

Identity management: where do Oracle’s latest acquisitions leave SAP?

Oracle recently announced that it has agreed to buy two further vendors in the identity management (IDM) arena, namely Thor Technologies and OctetString. These purchases underscore Oracle's commitment to IDM and should prove fruitful to the company. However, this could be bad news for rival SAP, which has so far kept quiet about any strategies it may have to boost its IDM operations.

By CBR Staff Writer

Oracle has signed an agreement to acquire two identity management vendors.

Thor majors in the function of provisioning access to applications and systems via identity, and its acquisition is probably the more significant in terms of differentiating Oracle from competitors. OctetString, meanwhile, specializes in directory virtualization.

Finishing off the year in which Oblix was also acquired, this shows a highly significant commitment to establishing IDM as a core capability within Oracle’s Fusion middleware. Although there is plenty of work to be done to make that happen, with a successful outcome far from being a certainty, Oracle still stands well placed to reap the rewards of at least this area of its acquisition activity, and success would provide an excellent foundation for the industry’s expected transition from application ownership to the use of services.

But where does this leave Oracle’s competitors? Well, in many respects there is only SAP, and we see no hint of a response to Oracle’s typically swashbuckling outlays. Admittedly SAP took its own middleware-related giant leap a few years ago with the dawn of NetWeaver, but it seems that has failed to give sufficient impetus to make the German giant look very lively, and its integration scope does not extend to IDM capability, even though this will become a critical enabler of interoperability between organizations.

Also, by now there are far fewer opportunities for SAP to catch up in this field. Thor, for example was one of the few sizeable independents left, and one of only probably two leaders in provisioning – the other is Courion, which has recently released significant enhancements that extend the value of provisioning beyond the realm of IT systems and passwords, into real-world equipment and resources. In many ways this sort of added value would complement enterprise applications well.

It is likely that SAP should have more to say about its intended approach to IDM within its middleware. With this in mind, it will be worth paying attention to what SAP has to say at its upcoming analyst event, to see whether this call is heeded.

Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (

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