Watching the Identity Management Sun Set

Most of us were surprised yesterday to hear Oracle’s intentions to acquire Sun. What does this announcement mean for the IdM space? While Oracle has taken out one of its chief competitors in the IdM suite business as a by-product of the acquisition, it has done so at the cost of great confusion to both companies’ identity customer base.

The acquisition was focused on Java and Sun’s Solaris operating system, and unfortunately Sun’s identity management customers will likely be collateral damage. Currently, Oracle and Sun have parallel identity management suites, and as long-time IdM industry pundit Dave Kearns put it in his blog yesterday, « There’s virtually nothing in the IdM arena, for example, that Sun can provide which Oracle doesn’t already have – and, in most cases, already have a better solution. »

This overlap creates challenges for existing customers. For example, it’s very possible that Oracle will drop the Sun IdM product line, if not immediately, then in the relative near future. Another challenge will be determining Oracle’s willingness to integrate with competitive IdM products from IBM, CA, and Novell, who compete with Oracle on many levels.

Since the IdM arena wasn’t a driving factor in this move, the identity teams at Oracle and Sun will be scrambling to sort out the implications of yesterday’s news. Most likely, it will be a number of months before an integration plan is completed, let alone executed. In the meantime, their existing identity customer base is left wondering about the future of their IdM suite investments.