Feet on the Street: Burton Catalyst

Last week, the SailPoint team attended the Burton Gartner Catalyst show in San Diego. The event was very well attended, and it presented a great opportunity to hear from the analysts and connect with our customers and prospects in between sessions and during our Mad Hatter’s identiTEA Party hospitality suite.

On day one, keynote speaker John Seely Brown kicked off the conference with a thought-provoking session designed to shake people out of complacency. His presentation, “Forging Ahead: Navigating the New Normal,” argued that today’s enterprises aren’t hacking it. He showed some pretty compelling statistics: plummeting return on assets over the last 65 years and S&P company life spans dwindling to less than 10 years, on average. In order to stop this nosedive, he argued, enterprises must transition from being “push” to “pull” institutions. He explained that this means adopting more decentralized, modular and loosely-coupled business models, where the goal is more collaboration than control. He urged the audience to embrace technologies (like cloud computing and social networking) that will help them evolve away from “closed, proprietary models,” mobilize resources on demand and participate in “idea flows” with external parties. There was lot to think about from this presentation, let me tell you!

Many of the Catalyst sessions that followed Seely Brown built upon his theme – offering a mix of the theoretical and the pragmatic. In many sessions, cloud computing was the focus, and many questions were raised about how to separate the hype from the reality; and how to embrace change while managing new sets of risks. In one session, Bob Blakely and Ian Glazer acknowledged that cloud computing can deliver cost savings, but for some technologies like user provisioning, it’s premature to move them to the cloud because there’s not a lot of benefit … yet.

In another session, Lori Rowland staged a mock “intervention,” urging the industry to adopt a new way of thinking about provisioning. Although Lori acknowledged that provisioning has had some successes, she pointed out that the technology has become bloated over the years, is notoriously hard to integrate, and relies on proprietary connectors that have to be addressed every time an app is updated/changed. The session echoed a lot of what Lori said during SailPoint’s “Rethinking Provisioning in 2010 and Beyond” webinar in May. We agree wholeheartedly with the need for a new approach to provisioning, which is why we introduced a next-generation provisioning solution earlier this year.

For SailPoint, perhaps the highlight of the Catalyst conference was hearing – from analysts and end users – that identity and access governance has fully established itself as a market. In just four short years, our conversations with customers have evolved from explaining the concept of identity governance to hearing customers present successful case studies about it. In fact, my next post will be recapping a case study that one of our customers, Sallie Mae, presented last week at Catalyst.

Did you attend Catalyst? What was the highlight for you?