IAM@IBM: Finally back to leadership

It has been somewhat quiet around IBM’s IAM offering for the past few years. Having been one of the first large vendors entering that market, other vendors had overhauled IBM, being more innovative and setting the pace in this still emerging market.

This seems to be over now and IBM is showing up amongst the IAM leaders again. Since IBM launched its IBM Security division as part of their software business and moved the IAM product from the Tivoli division into that new division, things have changed. The IBM Security division not only is responsible for the IAM products, but a number of other offerings such as the QRadar products.

IBM has defined an IAM strategy that brings together their capabilities in Security Intelligence – such as the IBM X-Force services and the QRadar products – with IAM. The core of IAM still is formed by familiar products (if you replace “Tivoli” with “Security”), such as the IBM Security Access Manager, the IBM Security Directory Integrator, the IBM Security Identity Manager, and others. However, IBM has put a lot of work in these products to improve them and to make them leading-edge (again, in some cases).

There have been four recent announcements. One is the IBM Security Access Manager for Mobile, an appliance that allows managing mobile access, provides SSO services and risk- and context-aware access, based on information such as the IP reputation – that is where, for instance, IBM X-Force comes into play.

IBM has also introduced their own Privilege Management solution, IBM Security Privileged Identity Manager, to manage shared accounts and add strong authentication. The interesting piece there is the tight integration with QRadar to analyze real-time activity of privileged identity use.

The third major announcement is what IBM calls the IBM Security Directory Server and Integrator. Here they bring together Directory Services and Identity Federation – plus QRadar integration. Integrating federation and directory services allows managing more identities, such as external users, as well as reaching out to Cloud services.

Finally, IBM has extended their IBM Security Identity Manager – the former Tivoli Identity Manager – and added advanced analytical capabilities as well as integration with QRadar security intelligence. The latter allows for better analysis of real-time attacks and fraud detection. While such integration is not entirely new, if you look for instance at NetIQ Identity Manager and Sentinel integration, it highlights the fact that IBM is moving forward with its IAM offerings rather quickly now, showing innovation in various areas and having a clear execution strategy.

I always appreciate strong competitors in a market – it helps drive innovation, which is good for the customers. The IBM investment in IAM is also a good indicator of the relevance of the market segment itself – IAM is one of the key elements for Information Security. IBM’s strategy also aligns well with my view, that IAM is just one part of what you need for Information Security. Integration beyond the core IAM capabilities is needed. So, in light of IBM’s current news around IAM, I think it is worth having a closer look at them again.



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