This morning Ping Identity, a maker of federation software announced that it had acquired the Sxip’s Access product line from Sxip Identity Corporation. This includes several products, namely Sxip Access and Sxip Audit. Ping is taking over the complete product line, customer base and key workforce. Ping is a US company headquartered in Denver, Colorado, and Sxip is a Canadian company that has its base in Vancouver, British Columbia. Due to this acquisition, Ping will open up an office in Vancouver as the result of this acquisition.

Sxip Access is a federation and identity management component that allowed businesses to extend their identity management in order easily integrate with externally hosted applications, such as, Google Apps, and other SaaS components. The hosted application space is growing and more enterprises are deciding to outsource applications in order to cut costs and stay up-to-date with innovations. Identity management solutions have traditionally been focused towards the enterprise. Federation technology enabled enterprises to extend the reach of their authentication realm towards external entities, but in the case of hosted applications, additional challenges present themselves: identities must now be extended and managed outside of the enterprise. These challenges had been the focus of Sxip’s successful Access product line.

Key features of Sxip Access were centralized user management, phishing protection, enterprise directory synchronisation and bulk account creation, linking and reconciliation. With those features, enterprises could manage user access to external on-demand applications as easily as internal applications.

Ping Identity is a leader in the federation software arena, and has been building a large customer base by harnessing multiple federation standards in order to build bridges and allow for seamless single-sign-in (SSO) between multiple entities with its popular Ping Federate product. Traditionally the company has focused on the making federation accessible and easy to deploy for enterprises requiring access across multiple organizations. Through working extensively with its customer base, Ping therefore focused on facilitating the deployment, and created additional components to fill some gaps that were often discovered upon federation deployments. Initially sold as separate products (PingLogin and PingTrust), they are now sold as part of the PingFederate product line.

Sxip was founded in 2003 by industry visionary Dick Hardt, who was previously CEO of ActiveState. Dick was one of the pioneers in the user-centric federation space, and coined the term “Identity 2.0” to describe an open, decentralized identity model. Sxip Access was sold mainly as an appliance that allowed enterprises to easily extend their corporate identity management’s reach to be extended towards hosted applications. Additionally, Sxip offered several free tools, such as Sxipper, that securely stores and manages accounts on many sites for a user. Sxip, and especially Hardt has also been very active in the OpenID foundation and involved in the specifications of the OpenID protocols.

The question remains what will remain of Sxip now that its main product line has been sold off. On its company web site, Sxip announces that it will now focus on consumer solutions, such as its Sxipper product. With Sxipper currently being available for free, this means that Sxip must now find revenue streams for its consumer oriented products.

KCP believes, as most in the industry do, that software as a service (SaaS) is growing rapidly every year as providers are making significant investments in this area. The effort undertaken by and Google are model examples of this trend. Therefore, enterprises will have to acquire the technology that allows them to link those externally hosted applications into the enterprises identity management infrastructure. For Ping, being a key player in the federation space, this is an important growth opportunity.

This deal rounds off Ping's product offering to include the obviously missing pieces required to support enterprise SaaS use. With federation deployments expected to rise significantly towards the end of 2008, this allow Ping Identity to stay well ahead of the curve in this competitive market space. We see the potential of Ping to become the most innovative vendor in the federated access management market, with the combination of the technology of these two thought leading companies.