IBM To Acquire Identity Management Firm

In a move to beef up its security products, IBM has inked a deal with identity management software provider Access360 to acquire all the assets of that company.

IBM executives said the acquisition of the privately held firm, which is based in Irvine, California, will strengthen the tech giant’s Tivoli software offerings in the fast-growing security management software segment.

The deal is expected to close in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Access360 will become part of the IBM Software Group, and will be integrated into the Tivoli software portfolio. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Identity Management

According to research firm IDC, the market for security management software will experience about 30 percent compound annual growth, from US$550 million in 2001 to more than $2 billion in 2006.

Aberdeen Group analyst Jim Hurley told the E-Commerce Times that the identity management software market is growing rapidly because it solves a number of key issues for IT and business operations.

For example, identity management software helps organizations consolidate identity data and automate deployment of employee, contractor, business partner and customer access rights to applications and resources. The software also can help companies reduce IT costs and increase security.

“Customers are aggressively investing in identity management software to control the explosion in user populations as they extend their business beyond the firewall and through emerging Web technologies,” said Robert LeBlanc, general manager of Tivoli Software at IBM.

All About Access360

LeBlanc noted that by merging the talent and technology of the Access360 and Tivoli software teams, IBM can speed deployment of an integrated identity management product with autonomic capabilities to its customers.

Tivoli systems management software is designed to help traditional enterprises and e-businesses manage security, storage, performance and availability, and configuration and operations.

IBM executives said that adding Access360 enRole identity management software to Big Blue’s existing portfolio is part of the computing giant’s strategy to offer customers a comprehensive identity management solution that spans user life cycle management, access control, privacy management, provisioning and metadirectories.

Good Move

Dozens of companies compete in the identity management software space. Analysts said Access360 is an attractive acquisition target because customers have been buying, installing, deploying and maintaining its products for a couple of years.

“Access360 has mature technology and understands the needs of the market well,” Hurley said. “It’s a good marriage, from a technology perspective.”

Analysts added that the acquisition will help Big Blue compete against market leaders in this space, including Sun Microsystems, Computer Associates and Microsoft. In addition, it will enhance the credibility IBM has already acquired in the security market.

Overcoming Old Challenges

But IBM is playing catch-up in this space, analysts said, and still faces many challenges. One such challenge is integration, according to Hurley. Another is preserving the brain trust behind the acquisition, he added, noting that IBM has struggled with this in the past.

“Another challenge is communicating to their direct sales force, as well as their channels, how to succeed here,” he said.

IBM executives said the company plans to market and sell Access360 products worldwide through an integrated IBM and Access360 sales force. The company hopes to maintain existing relationships with Access360 customers and business partners.

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