Gartner’s ‘magic quadrant’ ranking of vendors shouldn’t matter as much as it does, but it does. So it’s good news that the new MQ (as, I think, previous ones) for user provisioning puts Novell’s Identity Manager product in the leader’s quadrant.
To me, the question of vendor choices in provisioning pivots crucially around experience. If I was in the market for an identity solution, the key question I would ask, and probe on, would be the total number of actual like-sized deployments in production today. Not sales, not roadmap, not ten-person deployments, but real enterprise-class (or whatever size you are) deployments. In other words, yes, the technology works but who is actually using it?
Burton, Gartner’s specialist identity competitor, wrote a paper recently (I don’t have it at hand; I’m working from notes) about the provisioning market and the number of actual enterprise customers. They surveyed the vendors and found that there were, in my analysis of their analysis, four tiers:
(1) Novell and Microsoft each claim thousands of customers. I would say that there is a definition issue here, because Microsoft, due to their ubiquity on the desktop, is always going to be a major player in this market, but that their offerings are not nearly as robust as the other vendors. But, you know, I’m biased.
(2) IBM, Oracle, Sun, and each claim several hundred. IBM — Tivoli, really — is a strong competitor. Oracle is being Oracle, very aggressive, although it’s not clear that their products work nearly as well as their roadmap. They have significant integration issues to overcome, but they certainly have a seat at the table, especially since it’s hard even for most IT people to distinguish between a relational database and a directory. I would say that Sun, for whatever reason, has in the past year or two fallen off of its game in this market and is less aggressive than in the past. Maybe it’s the departure of the Waveset management, maybe it’s a change in focus; I don’t know.
(3) BMC and CA also claim ‘several hundred’ deployments, although my experience doesn’t support that claim. I’ve run into the second tier a lot in competitive situations, but not so much BMC and CA. BMC has a compelling story to tell and Remedy is a big door opener for them, but I see them as perhaps a junior cousin. HP, now out of the game, and Siemens each claim between one hundred and 250 customers. I never run into Siemens, possibly because their primary customer base is in Europe. You could argue that tiers 2 & 3 ought to be combined, but that’s not the way that I see the market.
(4) And then the rest — there are twenty vendors in the market according to Burton — each have something between fifty and one hundred customers. Burton says that the actual number of deployments is probably half that, so a specialist vendor (less charitably, “a little guy with an idea”) probably has thirty or forty real deployments at actual customers.