I always appreciate it when someone attempts to educate others about identity management and related technologies. So when I saw the the following presentation, it quickly caught my attention as I was working with both products when the Oracle deal to purchase Sun went down.
Why Oracle Dropped Waveset Lighthouse and Went to Oracle Identity Manager (OIM)
Not to be too nit picky, but there are quite a few errors in this presentation that I simply couldn’t ignore.
- OID is not the acronym for “Oracle Identity Management”, it is an acronym for “Oracle Internet Directory” – Oracle’s LDAPv3 directory server. OIM is the acronym for “Oracle Identity Manager”.
- SIM (“Sun Identity Manager”) was not a “suite of identity manager products” as you state. SIM was a data synchronization and provisioning product. SIM was part of the suite of Sun Identity Management products that also included Sun Directory Server Enterprise Edition (SDSEE), Sun Access Manager/OpenSSO, and Sun Role Manager (SRM).
- It is stated that one reason that Oracle did not elect to continue with SIM was because it did not have a Web 2.0 UI. SIM version 9.0 (the version being developed when Oracle purchased Sun) did have a Web 2.0 UI. So this is not quite an accurate representation.
- “Oracle IDM” is Oracle’s suite of identity management products which includes Oracle Virtual Directory (OVD), Oracle Identity Directory (OID), Oracle Access Manager (OAM), and Oracle Identity Manager (OIM). The presentation uses “Oracle IDM” (and later, simply “IDM”) to refer specifically to Oracle Identity Manager, however. This is both confusing and misleading.
- It is stated that “IDM allowed faster application on-boarding.” As an integrator of both OIM and SIM, I can honestly say that this is not a true statement. We could have simple SIM deployments up and running in the order of days/week and a production deployment in a month or two. OIM, consistently took several months to deploy – which was great for a billable professional services firm, but not so great for the customer (who had to pay for those services).
- It is inferred that OIM is able to provision to cloud and SIM was not and that was a reason why Oracle chose to go with OIM. That is a misleading statement as SIM was able to provision to cloud applications as well. SIM also supported SPML (not a big fan, myself) and SCIM for provisioning to other identity platforms and cloud based applications.
The main reasons that Oracle chose to go with OIM versus SIM was simply the deeper integration with Oracle products and their not wanting to alter the Oracle IDM roadmap. I was on the early calls with Oracle when they announced which products they would keep and which products they were getting rid of. During those calls, they had their “politically correct” reasons as well as the “real” reasons and it always came back to these two.
There was only one place where I saw Oracle forced into altering their position and they had to update their roadmap; this was with the SDSEE product. Oracle made it very clear that the only product they wanted in Sun’s identity product line was Sun Role Manager (which later became Oracle Identity Analytics). In fact, only a couple weeks after the purchase was made, Oracle had already set an end of life date for all identity products including SDSEE. What Oracle hadn’t counted on was how well entrenched that product was across Sun’s major customers (including the US Government and major Telcos). It wasn’t until the outcry from their customers was raised that Oracle “decided” to continue product development.
Purely from a technology perspective, if you are a company that has deployed a wide array of Oracle products, then it made sense to go with OIM due to the deeper integration with Oracle products, but not so much if you are a heterogenous company. In such cases, I have found other products to be more flexible than OIM and provide a much quicker deployment times at much lower costs.
(I wrote the following article for BABM Business Magazine back in May/June of 2009. The article is reprinted here with their permission.)
With the latest layoff news continuing to add chaos to the economy, CEOs need to protect their businesses in case of staff cuts, restructuring or consolidation of offices. While your company may not be planning layoffs now, there is no guarantee that in three or six months from now this will be the case. There are steps your business should take, both proactively and reactively, to ensure that your most valuable information such as customer data and contracts isn’t walking out the door with terminated employees.
Ideally, even before layoffs occur, businesses need to be prepared to protect their assets. Employees may sense a layoff is imminent and start grabbing what data they can before they get the official word. This could lead to a loss of your company’s most valuable contacts that former employees may use to compete against you. Proactive monitoring of systems, before layoffs begin, can ensure that your company’s data is protected.
There are a variety of technologies you can implement to monitor your employees’ access of specific applications. For example, you can monitor who has access to what type of database and determine if an employee is running unusual reports. Are certain employees extracting every field, downloading the data to a local disk and/or sending it to themselves over email?
Having a solid process for role provisioning and access management will help limit access of certain information to those people who need it to do their jobs. If levels of access to various applications and corporate information are assigned for each job description, it is easier to set up monitoring systems for each employee as well as protocols for changing passwords and other termination procedures to remove access when an employee is let go.
A good rule of thumb is to trust, but verify. Monitoring can be performed at many levels and includes database access, disc usage, and whether or not USB drives are being plugged into company computers. Monitoring can even determine if proprietary data is being sent to an email account. When it comes to access management and monitoring, CEOs and executive management need to weigh how much protection they want with how much they protection they can afford. It’s a formula that will vary for every company.
Once a company is in an action stage and layoffs are about to begin, it’s almost too late to protect and secure its data without shutting off access altogether (which may not be feasible in all cases). As a fallback plan, many companies provide their security team with a list of users they plan to let go. On the morning the layoffs are to take place, the team is tasked with acting on the list and locking out those employees from their accounts. But there’s often the lingering feeling that something was missed. Are they prevented from accessing your systems remotely? Are they still receiving their email on their home PCs? Does the employee have access to vendor accounts? Can your security team effectively map the employee to all the accounts they have accumulated over the years?
There are many types of technologies that can be used from a proactive perspective and subsequently verified from a reactive perspective. CEOs should be proactive and have an effective user provisioning solution in place. This ensures that they have accounted for all the systems and the types of system access where a user has an account. Once layoffs have occurred companies should continue monitoring mission critical systems to ensure that the access has been terminated appropriately. A security event monitoring solution on the back end can monitor log files or traffic patterns to these systems and immediately notify of any unusual activity.
Companies that have implemented centralized account management systems have peace of mind that they can quickly prevent access by employees who are no longer associated with the company. They can be certain that they have locked all accounts being managed by the system and actions such as terminations can be performed by management (ahead of time) rather than needing to involve people from the security team.
Companies that have not implemented a centralized account management system are increasing their workload and effectively putting valuable corporate assets at risk. At this point, there has to be due diligence as you have to perform these tasks manually. The potential for damage is great, however, and fallout will rise exponentially as more layoffs occur. If you have implemented a centralized user provisioning system, congratulations! If not, don’t panic, there are still tasks you can perform to help protect your assets.
- Prepare your list well in advance and give your security team a chance to locate the various user accounts.
- Work with functional managers, supervisors, or project managers to further determine the user’s access.
- Monitor system logs and network traffic to determine if any unusual access or traffic patterns appear. Respond immediately.
Even with this type of preparation, the tasks can be quite time consuming and it could take weeks to properly locate and delete access. Hence, our advice is that it’s better to take more proactive steps to avoid headaches and possible customer data and other business asset loss later on. Getting a handle on your role provisioning and user access procedures and having a plan for monitoring employee application use are good places to start.
Staff reduction is never easy and you should make the separation as painless as possible. It is unfortunate that some employees view corporate assets as their own and feel entitled to take information with them when they leave. As a business owner responsible to shareholders or even to the remaining workforce, you need to take every action possible to ensure the protection of this data.