Oracle Buys Oblix to Secure Web Services

UPDATED: Oracle acquired Oblix for an undisclosed sum, adding new
single sign-on software to to offer secure Web services to corporations.


Oblix technology will also provide Oracle with a strong entry into the broad
identity management software market, a multi-billion-dollar industry driven
by the need for organizations to consolidate how they manage security across
disparate applications and systems in an enterprise.


Thomas Kurian, senior vice president of Oracle server technologies, said on
a conference call Oracle will create a specialized sales force to sell
identity management software based on Oblix’ sales expertise.


Though the Redwood Shores, Calif., company has made ID management software
for its own products, it lacked the ability to shore up identity in
applications from other companies.


No longer. Oblix provides software that allows access to corporate data to
more than 200 customers, including Coca-Cola, American Airlines, Cisco Systems and General Motors.


Oracle will use Oblix technology to to enable secure single sign-on access among its newly acquired PeopleSoft applications for human resources as well as those of J.D. Edwards, Kurian said.


The software lets users tap Web services through networks from devices
without having to enter all of their personal data each time.


Single sign-on is prized by analysts for its ability to enable compliance
with increasingly demanding federal regulations for safeguarding sensitive
personal and corporate information.


However, the purchase will help Oracle better compete with IBM , Computer Associates and BMC
Software , all of which make or use some sort of single
sign-on to allow customers to access distributed computing applications.


The deal could be especially painful for Microsoft, which had partners like
eBay and Monster.com bail on its Passport single sign-on software in recent
years. Microsoft had the closest relationship to Oblix, establishing an
Identity and Access Management Solution Accelerator to help customers use
Oblix NetPoint and Microsoft Identity Integration Server (MIIS).


Kurian said that 100 percent of Oblix’ sales and engineering employees will
join Oracle. Oblix CEO Gordon Eubanks will leave to pursue other interests.


Kurian promised that Oracle will improve COREid, SHAREid and COREsv ID
management products, while still selling them as
stand-alone products. Oblix technology will complement the identity and
access management software available now in Oracle’s identity management suite, which is part of Oracle
Application Server 10g, he said.


ZapThink analyst Jason Bloomberg said Oblix was a solid company because of
its ID and Web services management, which it picked up from its acquisition of Confluent Software a year ago. But Oblix never gained on companies
like SOA Software and AmberPoint in the Web services management space.


Now Bloomberg is curious if Oracle will use Oblix to flesh out its
service-oriented architecture (SOA) line.


“This move by Oracle begs the question: was there something wrong with
Oblix’ WSM capabilities, or does Oracle not understand how vital WSM is in
an overall SOA product strategy?” Bloomberg said. “The jury is still out on
whether Oracle can truly put together a coherent SOA strategy that will be
competitive with the likes of IBM, BEA Systems and Microsoft.”


Vendors who don’t make it already are hungry for single sign-on and ID
management.


Just last week, BMC acquired single sign-on supplier OpenNetworks for $18 million. Computer Associates agreed
to buy ID management player Netegrity for $430 million. HP last year acquire
identity management software maker TruLogica.


The buy is also the latest for a very acquisitive Oracle, which snatched
Retek out of the hands of rival SAP AG last week and purchased
PeopleSoft back in January.


Mike Singer contributed to this article.

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