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Vendors serve up an identity management buffet

In this market, a happy middle exists between the integrated suites and point products, if you know where to look

by Dave Kearns

The biggest players in the identity management arena will all likely tell you that buying a single, full-featured identity management suite from a single vendor is your best guarantee of success. Smaller vendors, with award-winning products in one or two areas of identity management will tell you that bundling your own suite of "best of breed" solutions is the road to ultimate success. They can't both be right, can they?

Well, actually, they can.

In "Feasting on identity management" I took a look at these seemingly competing philosophies and came up with this analogy:

"Best of Breed" is like dining a la carte. You choose the appetizer, soup, salad, entrée and dessert, from all of the offerings of the kitchen to put together your own vision of a meal. Perhaps the parts work well together, perhaps not. 

An "integrated suite" is like a chef's tasting menu - there are few, if any, choices and all diners at the table have to have the same dishes. You don't even get to choose the courses you'd like - they're all delivered to you although you certainly don't have to eat them. The benefit, of course, is that (if the chef is good) they're all designed to integrate into a single memorable meal.

A third possibility, though, is more like a "banquet menu." You, the customer, sit down with the chef and from a limited number of choices pick the meal that will be served to all of your guests. You get to choose those things you like while relying on the chef to steer you towards choices that are complementary.

Some may prefer one method, some another. But the important thing to realize is that when it comes to the identity management feast there's more than one way to make the meal.

Depending on your own experience, the expertise available to you in-house and any strategic relationships you already have with vendors, one or another of these methods will be best for your situation. The hard part, of course, is honestly deciding what that situation is.


Stay abreast of all the latest happenings with the Identity Management market through Network World's e-mail Identity Management newsletter. Written by Dave Kearns, this newsletter will give you the information you need to evaluate, install and maintain the right directory services and identity management software for your enterprise.



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