Saturday, March 15, 2008

I wonder if my ex-IBM colleagues will still speak to me

My thoughts regarding the IBM acquisition of Encentuate have been drawing quite a bit of traffic, so I guess it's a topic of interest this week.

Nishant Kaushik, Oracle's Architect for Identity Management Products gives his views on the whole thing including cheekily quoting me. I know it's all in good fun, so I'll respond in the same spirit...although I should ask if they've given him a new role as a member of the sales team? :-) Yes yes I know, the people in the product management/architecture team are evangelists by default, so they have a responsibility to help sell/evangelise their products.

He pinpoints my comments that the upgrade from IBM Tivoli Access Manager for Enterprise Single Sign-On (ITAM ESSO) 6.0 (the current version and OEM of Passlogix v-GO) to version 7.0 (the "blue-rinsed" version of Encentuate) is a "rip and replace". He suggests (tongue in cheek) that instead of going through the pain of upgrading to ITAM ESSO 7.0, customers should "upgrade" to Oracle's OEM version of Passlogix v-GO, the Oracle Enterprise Single Sign-On suite, because it'll be much easier moving forward and...
"could save many an enterprise many a headache."

While that's true in theory, customers could also go the direct route to Passlogix and just upgrade to the next version of v-GO. It's the same product with a different skin. I'm not saying I have a preference for Passlogix over Oracle. I'm just saying you have a choice.

Before you go rushing off and telling IBM where to shove their Encentuate product, the first question you need to ask yourself is, "do I have any other IBM Tivoli security products deployed?" In most cases, the answer will be "yes". If you do, the smart thing to do is to stay calm. Because if you have already invested in other IBM Tivoli security products, it's going to cost you a heck of a lot more to "upgrade" them to Oracle's versions. A "rip and replace" of your core Identity and/or Access Management infrastructure is going to be 1,000,000 times more painful than a "rip and replace" of your ESSO solution. If you only have ITAM ESSO, then maybe you can consider the "upgrade" to Oracle or Passlogix because you aren't as heavily invested in the IBM Tivoli technology. But I know IBM, and I know they will do their utmost to ensure they don't lose their valued customer base...especially over something like a strategic acquisition. I just hope IBM understands the position they have put their existing ITAM ESSO customers in by acquiring Encentuate and do everything possible to minimise the pain (IBM, please don't say "eliminate the pain" because that would just be lying, aka marketing).

Here's more food for thought, especially if ITAM ESSO is the only thing you have implemented from IBM Tivoli. If you "upgrade" from ITAM ESSO to Passlogix v-GO or Oracle's OEM version of v-GO, you will have to buy the product again. Your IBM licenses will not carry over, unless Passlogix and/or Oracle get very aggressive and agree to "upgrade" your deployment and waive the software costs (there's a thought for the sales management team in Oracle and Passlogix, assuming the latter feels like testing their already tenuous relationship with IBM)(UPDATE: Passlogix have responded to me via email in relation to their position. I have written a new blog entry addressing this). IBM will not charge you to upgrade to ITAM ESSO 7.0 if you already have 6.0 and your yearly support and maintenance haven't lapsed. That's just business as usual (assuming IBM haven't changed the policy since I left). The only cost you will likely have to incur as I said before, are the services costs (and any internal, intangible costs to business productivity because of the need to upgrade). If IBM want to keep customers happy, they'll need to somehow subsidise these additional costs. Charging customers the usual fees will not go down well. Remember, Oracle and Passlogix are just waiting in the wings and would like nothing better than to "upgrade" your customer.

So there's the choices as I see them. As a customer, you are actually sitting in a position of power at the moment. You just have to wear the pain of the potential "rip and replace" from ITAM ESSO 6.0 to whatever you choose as the "upgrade". IBM will be nice to you because they want you to upgrade to version 7.0. Oracle and Passlogix (I shouldn't count Sun, BMC, RSA or any other company Passlogix has "gotten under the sheets with" out of the equation here) will want to displace IBM from your environment. Just work out what's best for your organisation in the longer term after careful consideration.

As for my ex-IBM colleagues, the last I checked they were still talking to me, taking my calls and answering my emails. In fact, I know some of them subscribe to this blog (hi guys!). But if any of their existing customers read my previous post (or even this one), they may be getting some irate phone calls asking what IBM is going to do to help them upgrade painlessly and possibly getting yelled at for selling them a product that is essentially about to be "decommissioned" by IBM.

Sorry guys. I'm just telling it like it is ;-)

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