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Vendors say their revamped identity management suites are perfect for automating midsize enterprises. If so, then why are they so desperate to make a sale?

Manufacturing has its robots. Finance has its credit reports. When it comes to automation, IT has Identity Management (IdM) suites. With their combination of enterprise provisioning and automated password management, IdM suites enable the biggest organizations to shave man-hours off IT operations, improve security, and ease compliance woes.

Select IdM Market Vendors
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The vendors touting these suites constitute the biggest names in security, management systems, and applications--we're talking BMC Software, CA, HP, IBM, Novell, Oracle, and Sun Microsystems. Having spent millions gobbling up IdM companies, they're now looking to recoup their investments by targeting their suites at midtier enterprises (see "Select Vendors From the IdM Market").

For IT architects, those suites sound like an ideal solution to the privacy and administrative concerns that plague today's organizations. They're easily deployable and inexpensive, according to the vendors, making them the perfect fit for cash-strapped, resource-starved IT departments.

State Of Suite Integration
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Dig deeper, though, and you'll find these suites are only that in name. There's little integration among the suite components (see "State of Suite Integration"), and interoperability with major applications isn't guaranteed, particularly after patches and upgrades. In short, deployment can take the same amount of time as if the suite components were purchased separately.

All of this means IT should expect to spend three to seven times the product cost in professional services costs, says Bob Bentley, product line manager for identity management at Novell.

At the same time, many of the top suite vendors are angling to control more of the enterprise's core infrastructure. Given the little technology value in their suites, these vendors are proving very aggressive in their RFI bids, going so far as to cut costs and introduce tweaked products to make their suites more appealing to midsize enterprises.

However, the most compelling argument for IdM suites may lie in their strategic vision. Ultimately, IdM will become part of the very fabric of IT. To those ends, IdM suppliers must be able to describe how their products and technologies will extend identity throughout the enterprise in a coherent and manageable way.

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