Catalyst Conf. Notes: Wrapping Up

Catalyst 2007 has been a good conference for me simply because of the intangibles – Good conversations, stimulating discussions, and loads of fun. Here is a wrap up of a hodge-podge of thoughts from the conference.

Identity Services, Where Art Thou?
The second half of day 2 was dedicated to the subject of identity services. While Burton has been leading the discussion on the subject, they have encountered similar obstacles as the rest of us in trying to define a vast, amorphous area that is constantly being pulled apart by different parties. Whether it be vendors or customers, identity services tends to get defined either by what they need most, or can do the best. So arriving at one clear definition is difficult, leaving us with the very abstract, high level view that we have been stuck with for a while.

One of the interesting things I found out was that Burton has formed an Identity Services Working Group (ISWG) consisting of 9 of their customers. It is much more formal than I was expecting, collaborating via members-only wiki and following the Chatham House Rule. It will be interesting to see what comes out of the effort.

Meanwhile I, Prateek and Phil had some good conversations with colleagues at other vendors on the possibility of collaborating on defining identity services. There is recognition of the fact that a good identity fabric can only defined through a collaborative effort.

It is also interesting to see that the most recent entry into the IdM space is also the one gaining most traction as a true identity service – authorization service (aka entitlement management).

Oracle Had A Busy Catalyst
Catalyst turned out to be a really busy time for Oracle, with the IdM division making some major announcements around a major expansion of the Extended Identity Management Ecosystem. The Ecosystem is a set of ISVs that provide value-added integrations to Oracle’s IAM offering, delivering comprehensive identity management solutions to customers. In all 8 new members were added to the eco-system, providing new capabilities in the following areas:

  • Strong Authentication: Arcot, Imageware, TriCipher
  • Physical Access Control: Quantum Secure
  • Network Access Control: Juniper Networks, ForeScout
  • Privileged Accounts Management: Cyber-Ark Software
  • Federated Identity: Pay By Touch

You can read the press release here.

The solution that I found interesting was the one offered by Cyber-Ark. I’ll follow up on that solution in a future post.

Oracle and Wipro also announced an offering in the area of outsourced identity management services, called Managed Identity Services. It uses the various components in the Oracle IAM suite to deliver a set of managed services in the areas of provisioning, access control, federation, etc. Seems like Identity has arrived in the world of SaaS. You can read that press release here.

And We Had Some Fun Too
What I value most at these conferences is the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the people that shape and influence not just my approach to the space, but the very space itself. And this conference presented a host of such opportunities. Besides having some very interesting conversations with the Burton guys, I had the chance to meet up with a bunch of folks (some for the first time in person) at dinner, courtesy of good ol’ Mark MacAuley. The dinner had way too many Mark’s for one table, but proved to be a fun evening nonetheless, with some good banter. It was interesting to be sitting next to ex-Waveset and ex-Access 360 folks (Mark McClain and Ian Glazer respectively), folks who at one time probably had their faces painted on dart boards in the ex-Thor offices (I kid, I kid). But as Ian points out on his blog post about it, there is a thread that ties us all together, and it is good that we can sit down to laugh over our experiences in this industry.

Photo from Ian Glazer's blog at TuesdayNight
And the hospitality suites at Catalyst also offer a different way to connect with customers. Outside the usual confines of an exhibition hall booth, you get the opportunity to chat with them in an informal, fun atmosphere. And I think the casual atmosphere serves to loosen folks up a bit, because you definitely find yourself having a much more open discussion with folks.

And of course, many of the customers implementing OIM make an appearance at Catalyst as well, giving me a chance to talk with them about much more mundane, yet practical, matters.

And now, back to the drawing board.