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IBM Pushes Further Into Identity Management

IBM furthered its push into the identity management market, announcing Tuesday an agreement to acquire all assets of Irvine, Calif.-based Access360.

Upon closure of the acquisition, which is expected in the beginning of the fourth quarter, Access360 will become part of IBM Software Group and integrated into the Tivoli software portfolio.

The addition of Access360 enRole identity management software to IBM's existing identity management portfolio is part of Big Blue's strategy to further its presence in the fast-growing segment of security management software.

"The Access360 solution is a much easier piece of software for mid-tier and large enterprise customers to deploy and maintain than the current Tivoli solutions," said Jim Hurley, vice president of research firm, the Aberdeen Group. "There are key features of Access 360 that aren't available with the Tivoli solutions, so its a good complement."

Identity management software helps organizations consolidate identity data and automate the deployment of employee, partner, and customer access rights to applications and resources based on business policies.

According to Hurley, the acquisition is a recognition by IBM that identity management is a hot area with a lot of spending and that they needed to have a strong presence to meet customer need.

While security management software is expected to grow from $550 million, in 2001, to more than $2 billion, in 2006, according to recent research from IDC, the industry has also seen its share of problems recently.

Last month, Microsoft Corp. agreed to 20 years of independent, third-party audits of its Passport identification and authentication system to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that Microsoft falsely misrepresented the privacy and security of personal information collected from consumers through Passport.

While a lot of attention regarding identity management is being paid to Microsoft's Passport and Liberty Alliance with regards to Web services , Hurley notes that Web services are only one way identity management is used, and only a minor piece of the industry.

"When you strip away all the marketing, identity management is nothing more than a bunch of software services that sit on top of authentication, authorization and audit systems and they have nothing to do with the systems that ride on top," said Hurley.

As part of the acquisition, IBM will Integrate Access360 business operations and personnel into IBM Software Group, marketing and selling Access360 identity management products worldwide through an integrated sales force. A representative for IBM told internetnews.com that no decisions had been made about layoffs, noting that it was too early to tell whether they would be necessary.

Financial details of the acquisition were not released.