Friday, November 02, 2007

Cisco wants an identity and entitlement aware network

I've mentioned Securent a couple of times before and have had various opinions about the company and Authorisation/Entitlement Management in general. I've even had a bit of a debate with its CEO Rajiv Gupta both online and offline (via email).

In one of the "what the F*$&" moves of recent times, Cisco just acquired Securent for $100 million. In a side note, Securent curiously also announced guidelines and tools for centralising the management of entitlements. I think this is somehow going to get lost amongst all the talk about the acquisition.

There's plenty of informed commentary about it by Dave Kearns, Jackson Shaw, Ian Glazer, the Burton Group, and Dark Reading so I won't comment too much other than to say I agree with a few things various people have said:
  1. Securent will form the basis of Cisco's centralised, network based entitlement/authorisation service. Why? Because Cisco said so.
  2. Cisco is trying to bridge the gap between Identity on the network and Identity in the application world. They are not the only company doing this, but they are the most influential because they are Cisco. It's still true that in many circles today, the network = Cisco.
  3. Cisco understand (or at least hopes that organisations understand) that Enterprise Identity and Access Management needs the network to play its part around user identity and context to have a truly coherent enterprise security infrastructure that works. I'm not saying it's easy. I'm just saying it needs to happen.
  4. Securent will get lost in the big juggernaut that is Cisco, be consumed and eventually forgotten by virtue of being absorbed into a company as big as Cisco. So much for that great marketing team I've complemented before.
  5. Why the heck did Cisco start its march into the identity space with Securent? It's a little puzzling, but I suppose the other "hot mature vendors" had already been gobbled up by the likes of IBM, Oracle, CA and others. Cisco is behind in this space. The fastest way forward when you are behind is to be disruptive. Maybe that's what they are going for. They need to be relevant in this area if they are to continue being dominant in the networking world.

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