Friday, October 03, 2008

IBM tries to rain on Novell and HP's parade

The cynic in me is crying out for this blog post, so here I go.

It's not that I enjoy pointing out my ex-employer's boneheaded moves, but...ok so I do just a little bit.

IBM issued a press release today harping on about:
"migration services and competitive migration pricing for abandoned HP Identity Center security software customers aimed at helping them benefit from IBM's broad capabilities for securing and efficiently running IT for their business."
For those that don't remember, HP got out of the Identity Management software business earlier this year and left their existing customers with a bit of a problem. Then along came Novell on their horse offering to ease the pain in partnership with HP.

From what I can gather by reading the Novell and HP partnership press release, existing customers get equivalent Novell Identity Management software for free (until the middle of 2009) and some migration tools jointly developed by HP and Novell. There is no mention of free services however, so I assume there's some cost there.

I didn't see the word "free" anywhere within IBM's announcement. So my question is, are they going to guarantee that the combined software and services costs are going to be less than Novell's? If not then what the heck is the point of offering to "Bail Out HP Security Software Customers" (part of the press release's headline)?

Oh, it gets better:
"In response to HP's discontinued identity management products, IBM offers competitive migration pricing for software and migration services through IBM Internet Security Systems (ISS)..."
Notice the problem? IBM ISS specialise in network security! Talk about picking the wrong business unit to offer up as the service provider. It would have made a bit more sense if they had said IBM Security and Privacy Services (which was the division I worked for before doing my IBM Tivoli thing) or IBM Software Group Services (who used to try to bill me out to customers because I knew stuff, even though I worked for the IBM Tivoli technical sales team - management usually said no by the way, except for a few times I had to run customer training sessions because they supposedly "asked for me by name"). Both these business units have had years more experience deploying the Tivoli Security suite of products. They also have a heck of a lot more people that have the necessary skills to do the work.

Here's a few speculative reasons why they might have made this announcement:
  1. To piss Novell off a little bit and also hopefully catch all the existing HP customers that don't like Novell for some reason. Of course, there's nothing stopping customers from going to Oracle, CA or Sun. I dare say they'd willingly give existing HP customers "competitive pricing", which by the way means nothing becase it's not quantifiable.
  2. A boneheaded IBM ISS executive was trying to figure out how to increase ISS revenue and decided on this particular tactic.
  3. A boneheaded IBM executive was trying to figure out how to increase IBM revenue and decided on this particular tactic. The executive then thought that since it was security related, they would use the ISS business unit to deliver the solution because "hey, we acquired them 2 years ago as one of the world leaders in providing security solutions right?"
I wonder if the other consulting and services business units within IBM knew about this before the press release. My guess is not, but all you IBMers out there can correct me if I'm wrong. And if I'm right, there's going to be a few IBMers walking around today asking the same question and wondering why IBM has once again decided to compete with themselves.

This ISS rant assumes one thing of course, and that is that they actually find customers who want to switch from HP's Identity products to IBM Tivoli at a potentially higher monetary cost. I've already said I don't really see the financial value (I won't argue all the other bits because I'm trained to argue IBM Tivoli business value in my sleep).

In short, all of you working for ISS can just go about your business as if none of this ever happened. Well, all except the sales people who I'm sure will be told that they now have a new "innovative offering" to be peddling.

In other news buried within the same press release (I don't know why IBM keeps mashing multiple bits of news into the same press release), they announced:
"IBM Tivoli Security Policy Manager -- Brand new IBM software that provides customers the ability to develop centralized security policy management for managing application entitlements driven by compliance, data security and intellectual property protection. The adoption of SOA and Web 2.0 technologies poses unique security policy management challenges for managing user entitlements -- the loose coupling of services and mash-up applications across a business creates multiple policy management points, each of which may require its own administration. The IT reality to manage these policies and entitlements in an environment full of different vendors' technology is manual, error-prone and creates costly islands of security administration. Tivoli Security Policy Manager, available by end of 2008, provides standards-based, centralized application entitlement and SOA security policy management capabilities to help users strengthen access to new applications and services and improve policy compliance and operational governance."

Are you back from your eyes glazing over yet? Let me cut to the chase for you: the long marketing blurb basically means IBM Tivoli are releasing their Entitlement Management product later this year. I've seen it in action but am not at liberty to say anything at this stage thanks to the NDA. That said, it's probably not fair for me to be commenting anyway because I've only seen the Beta version, not the fully-fledged "we've tested the crap out of it and made it all nice and pretty" version. Well, maybe not the "nice and pretty" bit. If you've seen IBM software interfaces, they are rarely "nice and pretty". But I'm biased because I use a Macbook Pro as my personal computer :-)

If you work for IBM ISS, feel free to send any hate mail my way...

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