The acquisition of MaxWare by SAP finally has led to a new competitive situation in IAM. I define four segments or clusters of vendors in the market:

  • The ones with focus on the business process
  • The ones with focus on business service management
  • The pure (or mainly) IAM vendors (and the ones which have a broader IAM portfolio but not integrated that into a higher level vision)
  • The specialists 
To start with the first segment - these are the vendors who compete for becoming the leading supplier of the infrastructure for business processes. To do this, they need IAM to provide identity services into the new SOA-based business processes. The main vendors in this cluster are Oracle, and SAP (in alphabetical order...). Both of them are working on identity services, both two as well are working intensively on or providing solutions for GRC (Governance, Risk, Compliance). You might add Microsoft to this segment because their main target is a vital role in the business process battle.

The second segment are the vendors with an infrastructure management history who today provide solutions for Business Service Management (or Business Technology Optimization or however you name it). The most important ones in this segment are BMC, CA, and HP. Yes, for sure - HP also has some service focus but the big story is about BTO, in their case. IAM is, from the perspective of these vendors, mandatory as a central part of the IT infrastructure to be managed. You might, by the way, add Völcker Informatik to that segment. They are no full BSM vendor but their philosophy is driven by many of the same ideas.

Then there are the IAM suite vendors like Evidian, Novell, or Siemens - and many others like Beta Systems, Courion or M-Tech. For some vendor you might discuss whether he is part of this cluster or a specialist but that will become more clear with my definition of that segment later. These vendors are providing sort of "standalone IAM", with more or less completeness of their portfolio.

The specialists are vendors which focus on specific aspects of the broader IAM landscape. These include companies like SECUDE, Sxip, Ping Identity, Sailpoint, Titus Labs, G+D, or Bhold, to name just a few.

If you look for the big names in the list there are some missing, notably IBM and Sun. They are the typical "somewhere-in-between-vendors". I'd put IBM in the BSM cluster, Sun in the "pure IAM vendor" box as the best fit. But as mentioned above you could also discuss about the positioning of HP, Voelcker and other vendors.

The more interesting question is about who will be the winners in this new formed competition - and the loosers. The most difficult situation, from my point of view, is the one of the "pure play IAM vendors". Specialists might always find there place in the market or become acquired. But the IAM vendors who haven't been acquired until now will have to rethink their positioning. Might they add something to enter another segment? Evidian might, being a vendor in the systems management space at well. Besides they are a specialist in E-SSO and they have a new focus on mid-sized businesses. Siemens has large customers and its eHealth specialization, plus some Telco background. So there are opportunities for further success for virtually any vendor in the market. But some might have to really think about their strategy to achieve a positioning which makes them competitive even three or five years from now.