It is now nearly a month since Oracle OpenWorld 2013 closed and Oracle Team USA made an incredible win in the 34th Americas Cup. Both events have been amazing experiences with OpenWorld attracting more that 65000 attendees and Oracle Team USA coming back from certain defeat to a mind-blowing win. While I am a huge sailing fanatic, and probably could go on for days about the Americas Cup, in this blog post I will focus on what I believe the key messages from Oracle at OpenWorld were and also what it says about where Identity and Access Management is going.
I came to Oracle OpenWorld with a good view of Oracle's portfolio of IAM offerings, and while it is/was very broad and deep, it was a combination of enough acronyms and product to make anyone dizzy. It was also my impression that integrating these products was not always easy to achieve, thus missing the benefits of a truly integrated IAM solution or offering. This is what you could expect from the number of acquisitions that Oracle has made in this area over the years, it is a very tall order to ask that Oracle would have re-written these product to facilitate perfect interactions, and indeed this is not something we are seeing from the competition either.
It would seem however, that tall orders is not something that scares Oracle away, because as mentioned in my previous post Oracle OpenWorld '13 Part 1, Oracle is actually combining the majority of the functionality offered in their existing IAM portfolio in one product; Oracle’s Identity Governance Suite (OIG). Oracle does not stop there however, they are clearly recognising that the world is changing, and they are being proactive in the product development.
As we have seen from other visionary vendors lately, Oracle is adopting the approach to be able to easily extend the functionality and reach of the IAM solution. I feel that this is a recognition of the fact that it is no longer the enterprises alone, but rather consumers and the exponential growth in mobile and social computing along with the cloud becoming more and more adopted, that is setting the pace for innovation in Identity and Access Management, nor are large enterprises the only place where IAM is beneficial anymore . The business enabling aspects of IAM can be extended and utilised right down into mobile apps, machine-to-machine networks indeed across the internet of things. There has however always been one key component missing; the functionally provided by IAM. To say it has been missing, is not the complete story, but the functionality that has been offered in the past has been extremely cumbersome to implement and not very effective or dynamic. With the introduction of REST interfaces Oracle is joining a select few number of visionary vendors in the IAM space and at the same time sending the message to the competition that they are very much still in the game. Oracle is not actually stopping there, as they are adding the functionality for organisations using OIG to become Identity Providers, opening up many more business enabling features for a company. There are many other features that comes with OIG, and I have mentioned them in my previous post Oracle OpenWorld '13 Part 1.
I feel very passionately about getting the most out of IT, but unfortunately when we compare the actual abilities we have in IT to what is actually implemented and used in businesses around the world today there is a huge gap. I personally think that the one of the main reasons for this gap is that IT in general has not been made easy to integrate with on a deeper level. Large enterprise suite solutions have shown a tendency to become huge monolithic monsters that offered to do everything you needed, but do not play well with other systems. On the other end of the scale we have a myriad of more or less well-developed in-house solutions not following any standards or corporate guidelines.
Another area that has also proved itself to be a blocker for progress in companies is vendor and Service Provider lock-in. While this seems to be loosening, in line with more and more digitally open-minded Executives entering the C-levels, it is still an issue to be observed. It is important to always maintain flexibility and room to move in your architecture and this should be prioritised unless there are extremely good arguments not to.
We have to remember past failures of huge monolithic systems and the potential risks and draw-backs of vendor lock-in also when evaluating Oracle. If we are to really realise the full benefits that IT, and especially IAM, can bring then we need to embrace that fact that IAM needs to be integrated with in an simple but still secure way, and IAM needs to be thought into any design process because it is the catalyst that will take businesses and software into the 21st century, it should also be noted that social identity and mobile computing should be fully supported by any IAM solution in the future. Oracle have realised this and are now starting to facilitate this. While OIG is still under development I believe that it is safe to say that if the Oracle delivers in the roadmap they have promised at OpenWorld then OIG is raising the bar for IAM suites in 2014, by combining strong integration of platforms, flexible yet simple API's for interoperability and extensibility - based on a comprehensive feature set, covering both traditional IAM requirements and new challenges from mobile and social computing to the Internet of Things. This makes OIG a clear contender for product evaluation. It seems that Oracle is going for more than the Americas Cup because OIG looks for the competition to become the one platform to beat!