Today announced the general availability of Salesforce Identity – what does this mean for customers and the IAM market?

In some ways this is not a completely new product, CRM customers have been using much of this for some time.  However what is announced today extends the functionalities of this way beyond what previously existed.  Salesforce Identity provides a web single sign on capability that can be white labelled and which can be based on authentication by or a number of other trusted identity providers.  The authentication methods include two factor and risk based approaches as well as user id and password.  It supports the main authentication standards like SAML, OAuth and OpenID as well as third parties like Facebook connect.  It includes an extensible cloud directory and an optional “Salesforce Identity Connect” module. This latter component is built on ForgeRock’s Open Identity Stack and creates a bridge between existing on-premise directory solutions and Salesforce Identity.  Salesforce Identity also includes monitoring and reporting capabilities to allow the development of user activity and compliance reports.

So – is this just a cloud based web access management system?  Should this simply be viewed as being in direct competition with the range of IAM products in the market?  How does this stack up against the Microsoft cloud directory offering?  (See the Blog by Martin Kuppinger: Understanding Azure Active Directory)

As a company has declared that its vision is to help organizations connect with their customers, partners, associates and devices.  To do this successfully requires an understanding of identities.  The organization needs to be able to uniquely identify a customer, partner or associate irrespective of how they connect – from whatever device and by whatever means.  So this announcement needs to be seen as part of this core vision.  When taken together with the other developments, acquisitions and partnership it is much more than just another WAM.  It is a key component of a platform for organizations to connect with their customers, partners and associates.  It is an essential component needed to support the other parts of the platform.

So – through this platform – are seeking to change the way in which identities are managed by organizations.  To alter the perspective away from one focussed on internal IT systems and users to an outward looking one focussed on customers and partners whilst retaining internal control: integrating enterprise identity with CRM.