Oracle takes identity management to grid

Oracle Corp. is touting its identity management capabilities in an attempt to show customers that whatever IBM can do, Oracle can do better.

Oracle today announced what the company calls the first identity management offering for grid computing, placing its technology directly opposite IBM's Tivoli offering.

Oracle Identity Management is already built into Oracle's database and application server products, and the security software will ship with Oracle's newest database and application server release, Oracle 10g.

"What it really boils down to is that Oracle is trying to 'productize' their identity management capabilities," said Earl Perkins, an analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group.

"Oracle Identity Management is not something you go out and buy," Perkins said. Instead, he said, it's a roster of identity management features embedded in Oracle products, ones that existing customer might not know they have.

"Oracle doesn't like the idea that IBM is getting more attention in that space," Perkins said. "IBM Tivoli has a product called Identity Manager."

Oracle's identity management capabilities aren't new, but the company says they are being delivered in a more integrated, seamless fashion and have been enhanced for its new 10g portfolio.

Asked how Oracle's Identity Management package differs from the service IBM offers with its Tivoli systems management, Oracle's chief security officer, Mary Ann Davidson, said, "You don't have to hire an army of consultants," to use Oracle's product.

Oracle Identity Management features LDAP services to manage user identities and access control privileges, and it provides users with a single sign-on for application access.

One feature that has been enhanced for Oracle's Application Server 10g is Oracle Certificate Authority. It's designed to take away the pain many customers have when implementing public key infrastructures (PKI) for certificate authority, Davidson said.

"The number of customers we have with failed PKI implementations is as long as my arm," Davidson said. The certificate authority component of Oracle's identity management offerings is a Web-based, self-service interface for certificate provisioning, Davidson said.

"This is not trying to take away the VeriSign server certificate authority for e-commerce customers," Davidson said, referring to Oracle partner VeriSign Inc.

Too many clients, she said, complain that they lose time and money waiting on certificate authorities, which have been called the technology world's equivalent of passports.

"We've integrated the provisioning and the certification," Davidson said. "Customers can create client certificate authority without waiting.''

Perkins said Microsoft has built certificate authority capabilities into its Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003, and Oracle wants customers to know they can offer the same technology.

The identity management space is fairly crowded, Perkins said.

"They are pretty far behind the other folks in this space," Perkins said. "It will take a while for this message to take -- if it does."


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