Blog posts by Sebastian Rohr

The Empire Strikes Back!

Well, I thought nothing could puzzle me regarding the IAM market these days - acquisitions, mergers, emerging start-ups.

This ONE "acquisition" really hit me: Dick Hardt joins Microsoft! I almost dropped my morning espresso shot, when I received his (mass-)email... Once I read through his blog-posts here and here  though, I fully understand and congratulate both Dick and my former co-workers at Microsoft! It almost makes me wish I was still there ;-) - now with even more big AND versatile brains in Redmond it must feel like the "in the old days"... Nevertheless, I think the (not so evil) empire really was able to "strike back". Hiring Dick shows that Microsoft really wants this IAM thing to work - not only product-wise for the enterprise market, but also for the general population "BORGrosoft drones", which most of us still tend to be...

It really makes me book a flight to Seattle next spring to have some good Mac&Jack's Amber, deep-fried turkey (see Dick's blog) and most of all: some great discussion on Identity 2.1 , as I would call it from now on!

Dick & Jennifer: I wish you all the best in and around Redmond, it IS a great place to stay in the US!

Ray & Kim: nice catch ;-)


Looks like IAM and GRC is all about roles, doesn't it? Well, for the sake of simplicity it does. Simplicity you ask, having had trouble defining these in a year-long struggle and ending up with worthless collections of access rights and user profiles due to the latest merger and the finance -crisis consolidation?

You have pretty good company as many organizations face these problems. A few years back when I worked for CA, a good portion of the IAM projects also included considerable amounts of work to be done on roles. VAAU, at these times the preferred role-mining specialist in the market, helped a lot getting this work done, especially in the early phases of the projects.  As companies are comparable to living organisms, they tend to change over time (sometimes rapdily), thus affecting the roles and profiles user might be mapped to.

Early role-mining only provided insight to the current situation the snapshot or analysis was made, leading to frustration and incorrect roles once the IAM system was about to be delpoyed. Vendors like former VAAU (now with SUN) and the recently acquired Eurekify (now with CA) learned their lessons, providing consistency checking and automated role-monitoring as new key-features. This evolved the early role-mining tools from providing fuzzy "best-before" role data into helpful GRC supporting tools, that constantly check if former analysis is still valid. One example: if members of a certain group of user sharing the same role get the similar exception or add-on to their access rights, Eurekify would suggest to make this exception a part of the role. This helps to manage expceptions before they become a labyrinth while making the life of admins and auditors easier.

Speaking of "easier"... during my recent briefing with a former Eurekify EMEA VP and now CA employee, the question came up on how CA will leverage the power of Eurekifys tools in their customer base. I was told that both existing IAM customers - regardless of which vendor they chose - will remain to be primary focus of the team, as the above mentioned role-management and role-auditing capabilities are available for all major IAM products in the market. I was pleased to hear that CA will continue to sell Eurekify technology without limitations - and was even more happy to hear that integration will extend the available webservice interfaces. 

Keeping this open mind and easy way to dsicover, integrate and manage will definitly be advantageous to CA partner community, providing audit, role-mining and compliance services with the former Eurekify tools. I am looking forward to what happens next regarding the role-management tools and offerings - and also to what and when CA merges the Eurekify capabilities into their GRC and IAM tools!

Consolidation... as expected

The recent acquisition of EUREKIFY by CA does not come as a surprise, it was rather expected to happen sooner or later after the OEM/reseller agreement had been published. CA took what was left for grabs after SUN had (more to our surprise) settled an agreement with VAAU, who also had been in close cooperation with CA (and others) before. The consolidation regarding the role mining and role management market is in full progress and it is to be expected that each large IAM player in the market will cooperate if not acquire one of the smaller role specialists left in the field. As from the side of Eurekify, overall good/euphoric feedback on the deal was received. I tried to contact Dave Hansen to get his personal quote on the deal, but yet my sources at CA have not been able to push through to him. I, personally, think that this acquisition is good for CA and will strengthen their position, especially during the presales phase. Role mining and analysis as a service has become more important to assess the IAM-readiness of customers, allthough the value-add derived from an in-depth analysis is far bigger  than just acting as a bait to prospect IAM customers. I expect CA to position and integrate their newest toy as a core component in their GRC/IAM offering, as role modeling, provisioning, audit and the like are interwoven with each other and need to be dealt with in a joint effort.

Good luck! I am looking forward to a personal dialogue with IAM guys at CA!

Ensim: Crusade to Europe

Just a short note after meeting up with some ENSIM representatives (thanks for the opportunity!): after building some reasonable references in the european market and the recent acquisitions in the "MS infrastructure management market", there definitly will be some growth potential for ENSIM in EMEA. Whereever AD and ID management is needed and automation is key, one should check out if the quite modular and customizable set of solutions could make a fit. I'll look into the technology a bit deeper at the end of the year - so check back for more info and the capabilities of their products.

Also, I was informed that their local representation in Europe is going to be extended to accomodate the rising number of requests for demos and PoCs. Good for us at KCP to have some techies to talk to in our own time zone ;-)

Off to the evening reception at IIW, cu all soon!

Creating Authentication Strategies

Joining a special "reality" session was the best choice I made while attending IIW. Not only was this a wonderful opportunity to compare our KuppingerCole approach to providing insight and second opinion on the exact topic, but getting a deeper understanding of how to analyse and structure the whole process from the point of the Identity Architect. Most important was to learn about the projection and "5 year plan", especially regarding assertions, federation and -naturally (for me) smartcards and certificates. Great to learn also, that usage of TPM (Trusted Platform Modules for Trusted Computing) as a secure storage for softtokens and certificates is gaining momentum (years after manufacturers started integrating them int PCs and laptops). I will definitly check back with the "anonymous" presenter during the next years to see his strategy evolve, especially as my recent learnings on biometric authentication schemes, SSO and strong auth in general were my pay-back to the architect.

To my special friends at Infineon: hey, your products are actually in need on this side of the ocean ;-) and there IS business to be made with TPMs!

Meet in real world, connect online - v2.0

One of the fancy things about conferences like IIW is that lots of entrepreneurs and start-up people mingle with each other, which is how came to "poke around" a little. POKEN is a cute little way to give the traditional exchange of the business cards and the following procedure of scanning/creating vcards a tad bit easier...

Dave Brown of POKEN had a little session on how to facilitate the exchange of contact information without the hassle of activating bluetooth, entering data manually or other hurdles. One can get a small (and cute) token  called poken (USB and wireless, sor of NFC) with an individual ID in it and that "connect" to other poken owners just by bringing the two pokens together. Easy as a handshake - especially cute as the pokens look like 4-fingered hands ;-)

During this process, the pokens actually handshake and exchange their IDs, which are then stored in the flash part of the device. Once you hook the poken up to your computer, it reads the IDs recently learned and finds the corresponding contact information (in the InfoCard format) online. This InfoCard contains as much information as the related poken owner wants it to contain, enabling one to share a single website, email, phone number or other attribute, or offer full profile information if desired. Fun and useful fact: one can chose between up to three "profiles" depending on the context you meet a poken-person in.

I overheard that the poken could also be put to use as sort of a simple hardware credential, but I will need to investigate further... Meanwhile, if you are interested, check out You can connect your personal poken to your profile there and start "pokin'around".


Howdy? I am sitting in the lounge of IIW2008b, or the Internet Identity Workshop, Fall 2008, in the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA. Well, I am expecting the start of the event, as it will be kick off at 1 PM... I am really looking forward to this as I travelled all around California the last two weeks and the impression have been overwhelming so far. According to Dave Kearns, (thanks for a delicious dinner!) it will be quite a nice event!

Stay tuned for some up-to-date info what's happening here!


Pilgrimmage to the Promised Land - Bay Area from Oct. 27th on

Hello World, hello Bay-Dwellers!

Either you look forward to meeting me or to avoid me ;-)  - pay special attention between October 27th and November 13th as I will be in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley to meet some people. Especially the IIW in Mountain View at the end of the trip will be a highlight - but if you like to meet me before, please contact Levent or myself, so we can make an appointment. Looking forward to meet as many "gentle people" in SF as possible, regardless of flowers in their hair or big ideas on identity management in their brains!

Comment or email me, if you have stuff that you think us "old world people" need to know!

breaking a habit - UNDO

Despite the fact that I clearly see CA's recent acquisition of IDfocus LLC and their ACE technology as a plus to the whole offering of IAM technologies from CA, for me it is still sort of a "back to the roots".

CA has had a (rather bad) history of acquiring companies whose technology would make a nice fit to the portfolio, but then coming out sub-par after 6-18 months. This was either due to human failure, aka not being able to keep the talented people or due to underestimating the market traction one could generate from a certain technology. From my point of view, Netegritys' SiteMinder was one of those. Nice "solution" back then, but it was mistaken as a "product" by CA, and their sales failed to deliver the expected projects due to that.  

But there had been changes to the recently re-heated discussion on this "buy-and-let-die" strategy, a senior database vendor executive was blamed for coining.  The Niku Clarity solution prospered since the acquisition. Also, the Network & Systems Management tools were integrated and continue to excel (even though some brain-drain happened after those had been acquired). And,  last but not least, CA was also able to deliver first glimpses of the "innovate from within" strategie (see recently launched GRC products), Al Nugent as CTO had introduced a while ago.

So, why going back to the old habit? Well, we all know they are to resist! And in the case of an ever expanding field of IAM and GRC, one can only innovate so much from the inside with decreasing numbers of talented developers being available...

From my point of view, CA does the right thing in going back to acquisition, IF they keep innovating from the inside. Furthermore, they need to speed up on integration of acquired technology. I was quite happy to see their Identity Manager product integration finished with the recent release. But it took them more than 2 years - too long for a fast moving market like IAM & GRC.

I am looking forward to see how CA is dealing  with this, as it for sure could strengthen their position as IAM leaders, if played well.

More Crystal Balls... PKI v.2, convergence and the like

One of our jobs as analysts to provide insight and vision on what an when things are going to change and how it is going to happen. Sometimes though, my fellow analysts are far off with their predictions, sometimes one just underestimates the market pull or some impressive marketing stunt one of the vendors pulls to push the cause. Other times, for example with PKI, the real hype never materializes - but nevertheless the technology silently grows and matures and never really vanishes.

Lately, I was doing some work with Entrust and they were curious to hear that I had been tlaking to some companies who had actually come up with plans of deploying a PKI in near future. No kidding! We even saw the complete raza&rebuild of PKIs where Fraunhofer has created a new competence center around PKI and set up a new, TeleSec signed root-CA. Fun thing is, they are even offering 3rd person certificates free of charge! At least to their communication partners - and it is a still in the evaluation phase.

Besides, PKI "v2"  seems to have become more or less part of the infrastructure, as some smaller companies just decide to go the KISS way and deploy a Microsoft PKI (not that it is easy to create one works, and works the way you like it to work - thorough planning is recommended!). Fun thing is, I even heard vendors say: "uhhh, if it is only x,000 people and it is just for authentication - do your customer a favour and stick with a 'simple' solution". By `simple` one meant "low on license cost and maintanence", at least that is what I derived from it.

Anyway, integration and proper use is always key to the success of such a technology and thus I am pretty sure that if there is a use case and a direct application, any company can benefit from setting up a PKI. Especially in those situations where there are tokens and/or smartcards available as certificate containers, that are used as comapny badges or access tokens for PACs or time & attendance solutions. Hm, ... now I do sound like Mr. Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, don't I? Anyway, if I use my crystal ball I definitly see more integration and thus convergence, and PKI with multifunctional smartcards are part this as well as the use of SSO and centralized IAM!

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