UPMQ: User Provisioning Magic Quadrant

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.

How do you secure sensitive data on your computer?

Well, here’s one way not to do it:

In reply to: How do you secure sensitive data on your computer? by Marc Bennet

I require a password to access my computer, but to top that off, I try not to store any sensetive [sic] data on my computer. Lists of passwords however, I HAVE to store on my computer, and what I do, is I encrypt them. The simplest way to encrypt something is to type it up in word, then take a screenshot of it, and save the PICTURE as an unknown filename, then of course, you put that in a password protected .zip file.

That password protected zip file really isn’t secure, but the sheer inconvenience of this awkward security-through-obscurity method is what makes it so remarkable: a screenshot of a Word document!

Facebook Connect: real people?

Back in May, Facebook announced Facebook Connect, an authentication API that allows you to use your Facebook credentials on other sites.  And not just to log in; you can also take your Facebook information — trusted friends and privacy settings and the like — with you from site to site.  I thought that was fine and all, but I don’t use Facebook much so I didn’t really give it much more thought; it’s just another identity federation effort, plenty more where that came from.

But Dick Hardt recently pointed out that Facebook has a competitive advantage in the business of authentication:

The killer feature though is something that will be hard for other potential platforms to do. Facebook strives to only have real identities. In the participatory web, the enemy has been the lack of accountability. Trolls pollute the conversation,  spammers fill the web with garbage, and promoters try to game the system. Facebook kills off accounts that are not real people.

Even though he’s an advocate for OpenID, which I’ve seen gaining traction in the web world if not in the enterprise, Hardt thinks that this Facebook Connect poses a real challenge; things like OpenID won’t go away, but may be relegated to the early adopter geek fringe.

Luso-Japanese mestizo

Japanese ronin in Thailand

The old Thai capital of Ayutthaya was a fantastically cosmopolitan place in the seventeenth century. Among others, there were French, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, and Persian colonies living around the city. The Japanese residents alone included ronin, traders, and Japanese Christian refugees. (The photo above is of Japanese mercenaries in the service of the Thai king — note the elephants and the rising sun flag.)

As you might imagine, the characters that wound up in seventeenth-century Ayutthaya were not exactly run of the mill personalities. There was then apparently a job title of “adventurer,” along the lines of the Man Who Would be King: see, for example, Filipe de Brito de Nicote, the Portuguese adventurer in the nearby Arakan coast of Burma, or the unappealing Bastian Gonsalves, aka Sebastian Gonzales Tibao or Sebastian Gonslaves Tibeau. The chaotic history of the failed Portuguese colonization of Chittagong and Sandwip Island (modern Bangladesh) and Arakan is still waiting for a movie.

One of these adventurers was the Greek Constantine Phaulkon who became, briefly, an important character in late 17th century Ayutthaya and married Maria Pina de Guimar, a Luso-Japanese (presumably Catholic) mestizo.

Could you get a more obscure ethnic designation than “Luso-Japanese mestizo”? Only in Ayutthaya.

Or Macao; but that’s another story.