When I hear about something being given away for free, I always ask myself “is this like a free beer or a free cat?” Obviously, free beer has very little downside – taken in moderation of course. A free cat, on the other hand, comes with obligations and hidden ongoing costs like food, vet bills and a commitment for many years to come. My point is, always look closely to make sure that whatever you get for free really is “free.”
Which brings me to the point of this blog post: SailPoint’s IAM connectors. We actually don’t charge for any of our connectors. Our more than 80 provisioning and governance connectors come FREE to any organization that licenses our software. We believe that if you’re using our IAM suite, you should be able to connect to directories, databases, operating systems, enterprise applications like SAP, Oracle, and Peoplesoft, and dozens of SaaS apps like Salesforce, Box, and Google without having to pay more. In fact, resource connectors are not even on our price list. You get all of the end-system connectors for free – everything we have today AND anything we build in the future – no extra charge and no hidden fees.
So what’s the thinking behind our free connector strategy? And more importantly, is this offer more of a free beer or a free cat? Well, in my opinion, it’s definitely a case of free beer. The fact is we don’t think you should have to spend your valuable IT budget on connectors – period. Every IAM vendor supplies them, and to be honest, they are becoming heavily commoditized. These days any serious IAM vendor has to come to the plate with a full stable of enterprise and cloud connectors. Surprisingly, several vendors only provide a small handfull of connectors out of the box and the rest are left to be “..developed as part of the deployment.” Now that’s certainly a free cat and no beer. 🙂
I think it’s true to say that over the years, connectors have been a big distraction, used by vendors to take your eye off the real ball and to distract play away from the real game of IAM processes and policy automation. Of course connectors are very important, but they should just be there, covering all the apps you need, highly deployable, highly scalable and highly performant. I’m not saying they are easy to develop and support – in fact, we have an entire team of developers dedicated to just this one aspect of the system. What I am saying, though, is that they should never be the focus of the project, the crux of the problem or a line-item on the bill. We’ve chosen to “baseline” the connector pricing market to help make this point and encourage the industry to focus IAM buying decisions on a business-oriented approach, focused above the read/write connectivity line, closer to the business process layer and closer to the business user.
In the past, I’ve referred to this kind of “tops-down” approach to IAM as a “governance-based approach to provisioning.” A governance-based approach focuses on discovering, cataloging and managing entitlements as part of a well-defined governance lifecycle. This lifecycle is driven by the data which is of course aquired through the connector layer, but it should always be abstracted from it. The real goal is a single view of the request, controls, assignment and last mile provisioning process that sits on top of the connector layer. This abstraction allows you to focus on building clearly defined risk, role and policy models – models that are designed for and used by the business user.
So welcome to the world of free connectors from SailPoint, all beer and no cat, guaranteed.