Sun Joins Role-Based Provisioning Fray

Sun Microsystems has added business roles to its flagship provisioning software package, in a move aimed at bringing it to parity with a slew of competitors in the hot market for governance, risk and compliance (GRC) tools.

With the release of version 8.0 of Sun Identity Manager, the company becomes one of the latest to enhance its identity management offering to define business roles, which can be key to companies’ GRC efforts.

Those efforts have grown increasingly critical as companies face an expanding array of regulatory and legal requirements. For IT departments, those requirements often translate into a need for tools for provisioning (define) resources throughout the enterprise — a task simplified by roles-based management.

“When you’re doing provisioning across a large segment of the population of your enterprise, it’s hard to group entitlements in an organization based on IT roles, so you want to create higher-level business roles like marketing or human resources,” John Barco, Sun’s (NASDAQ: JAVA) director of identity management, told

Sun Identity Manager is available as a stand-alone offering or as part of the Sun Java Identity Management Suite, which includes role management, access management, federation management and directory server products.

Adding business role definitions might be new for Sun, but it’s been around for quite a while in offerings from other vendors.

CA (NASDAQ: CA), for one, began reselling Eurekify’s role management solution in April. SAP (NYSE: SAP) offers role management in its NetWeaver platform. Oracle also is among players in the field.

Another thing that’s new for Sun but old hat to other players is the integration of tools that manage compliance, provisioning and roles.

Shortly after announcing its reseller deal with Eurekify, CA also announced a slew of GRC products.

Meanwhile, access management technologies vendor Courion has had such products for two years.

“In 2006, we released full role-lifecycle management tools integrated with our compliance and provisioning tools,” Chris Sullivan, Courion’s vice president of customer solutions, told

In the same year, Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC), rolled out its own products, based on technology acquired in its purchase of BindView in 2005.

And identity management software provider MaXware, which was acquired by SAP in May 2007, has provided role-based management for “more than 10 years”, according to Suresh Ramakrishnan, who handles solution marketing for identity management at SAP.

“As identity management became a strong topic for all our customers, both in SAP and non-SAP environments, the quickest way to get a solution for heterogeneous environments — that’s tied tightly to SAP and has strong links to non-SAP environments as well — was to buy MaXware,” Ramakrishnan told

Despite the entrenched competition, industry watchers think that Sun may not be truly late to the party — because the party has just begun.

“I think the game is changing for identity management, and Sun is reacting to those changes,” Enterprise Strategy Group analyst John Oltsik told “There have been a lot of announcements but the true integration of these functions and their actual rollout is only now under way.”

While identity management suites have been around for some time, new types of requirements — such as the creation, provision and auditing of entitlements based on business roles.

“We used to look at things from an IT perspective in the past, and now we’re looking at them from the business perspective,” Oltsik said.

Article courtesy of

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