On September 9th, Ping Identity announced the availability of version 5.2 of PingFederate. This comes on the heels of Ping Identity’s acquisition of the SXIP Access product from Vancouver based SXIP in March. Ping Identity had acquired SXIP Access in order to extend its reach in the lucrative Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) market. Customers subscribing to services such as Google Apps and Salesforce are traditionally challenged to extend single sign-on and provisioning to those cloud-based services. SXIP Access offered a solution to this by leveraging an enterprise’s directory and synchronising accounts across the subscribed services – in other words, to Google Apps, Salesforce and the like.

Enterprise provisioning is a fundamentally important topic because of the costs associated with productivity and risks. Organisations want new users to become productive as soon as possible; hence it is imperative that those users gain access to all services and resources as soon as they start work. When users leave a company, access should be withdrawn immediately from all systems. Provisioning solves this by creating an integrated workflow to manage identity and access over a multitude of systems.

When external SaaS solutions are used, the subscribed services become an integral part of the enterprise's infrastructure. Although this seems obvious, many organisations have been struggling to integrate SaaS into the regular provisioning workflows. Accesses to external services have often been provisioned and de-provisioned manually. This presents risks, such as the example of a disgruntled sales person who is laid off and uses a not yet de-provisioned access to Salesforce in order to download a list of customers to get a head start at the next job. Federated provisioning with connectors to the SaaS system are the solution to this, and thus an important requirement for enterprises subscribing to SaaS.

Ping Identity has realised the need for federated provisioning and worked quickly to address these needs. Through the acquisition of SXIP Access, Ping has acquired the technology for automating the provisioning and de-provisioning of accounts to SaaS services. The integration of SXIP Access features into the main product line comes less than six months after the acquisition was announced.

Having been primarily focused on federated single sign-on and authentication, Ping Identity is a latecomer to federated provisioning, and arrives at this point through a different road. Some of Ping Identity's competitors are large vendors that have offered federated provisioning as part of their overall provisioning solution. This makes sense at the higher end of identity management deployments found within medium and larger enterprises. Smaller enterprises have simpler provisioning needs and often use more stream-lined provisioning products that do not typically offer connectors to SaaS providers.

At Kuppinger Cole, we see this move by Ping Identity to improve its position to sell to small and medium enterprises (SME) - they are the motor behind the growth of SaaS, - hence a lucrative target group and competition is increasing. On one side, large vendors are releasing versions of their federated identity software solutions that are slimmer and easier to deploy. On the other side, vendors such as Symplified are offering federated provisioning and single sign-on to SaaS as a service. As a software vendor, Ping Identity has good opportunities. The acquired SXIP technology adds a strategic cornerstone to Ping's offering and fortifies its position to sell into the lucrative SaaS and cloud computing market.