Executive IdM Session at OpenWorld: It’s All About Managing Risk

One of the things I did at OpenWorld this year was attend an Executive IdM Session that brought together folks from the IdM team and some of our best customers to share information and talk about the future direction of identity management at Oracle. It was an interesting gathering with lots of good discussion that resulted in the session running well over its allotted time of 3 hours. As you can see from the picture below, it was a full room (what you don’t see is those of us who had to stand in the peanut gallery at the back of the room).

The session had a nice flow to it, starting with a vendor presentation (Oracle, of course), followed by an analyst presentation (Bob Blakley and Lori Rowland from the Burton Group) and concluding with a customer presentation (our old friend Ramin Safai from Barclays Capital). Getting to discuss identity management from all points of view was quite a valuable exercise, and I gleaned lots of useful nuggets.

Security Inside Out

Security Inside OutAmit Jasuja (who heads up the Identity Management team at Oracle) kicked off the day by talking about “Security Inside Out“, Oracle’s new message on putting together a complete security practice by bringing together Database Security, Identity Management and Information Rights Management. Weaving all of these elements together allows an enterprise to get a complete handle on the nature of their security risk across all tiers – database, middleware and application – and in all contexts – data at rest or in motion, internal users vs. external users, and so on. This led to a lot of discussion on moving towards risk-based identity management, which can be more adaptive to an enterprise’s needs and allow identity management to be a business enabler, not a hindrance.

breakglassOne of the concepts I particularly liked was using identity management to enable “Break The Glass” scenarios that allow for contextual security decisions. In such a scenario, a user who ordinarily does not have access is allowed to get access but with added controls (like heightened audit, approval and attestation) to address the unique, emergency-like situation that presents itself. Being able to adapt to sensitive contextual situations without sacrificing on security and compliance is a powerful message that resonates in the enterprise world. Another topic that proved fertile for conversation was for risk-based IdM to leverage One-Time Passwords delivered via SMS or over land-line phones in order to implement higher levels of identity assurance (LOA). As two-factor authentication goes, enterprises increasingly view this as an attractive way to increase levels of assurance without having to invest in tokens and biometrics.

Complete Security

The Burton Group team talked about the state of identity management in the market today, especially emerging trends and hot-button topics. Lori validated my observation that cloud computing is going to have a huge impact on the future of identity management, and gave a nice shout out to my OpenWorld session on the topic. One of the interesting takeaways from their talk was this point that Bob made about achieving complete security: An enterprise needs to have preventive controls that allow business to be conducted as usual but flush the bad guys into the open, where detective controls can identify them and their activities, which would then allow responsive controls (aka the cops) to take action.

Down In The Trenches

Ramin then gave a customers perspective on implementing identity management – from “down in the trenches”, as he called it. There were a lot of good lessons in his talk – about scoping the project correctly and dividing it into small, achievable mini projects that demonstrate ROI, about the processes and architecture they put in place to ensure success of the project, and some of the achievements they had with their IdM implementation, especially when Barclays acquired Lehman Brothers. One of the major points made in the room during discussion was that security within the enterprise needs to be driven top down by an “Executive Governance Board” in order to achieve  consistency and completeness. It cannot be done piecemeal at the IT level.

I love taking part in sessions like these, as it is great to be able to hear so many different perspectives. And thanks to Greg Belanger from the Apollo Group for giving me a shout out during the analyst discussion on Oracle’s differentiators in the identity management area. The point he was making about Oracle demonstrating vision in IdM is an important one that we are very serious about here, and I am glad to be a small part of that.