Oblix Improves Federated Identity Platform

With SHAREid 2.0, companies hosting applications being accessed by federated business partners can connect those partners through a single sign-on process, increasing efficiency, said Rick Caccia, director of product marketing at Oblix, Cupertino, Calif.

Simplified remote server software also enables companies to quickly and security add partners by themselves using a disk-install that links partners via security assertion markup language (SAML), Caccia said.

SAML is an industry standard used for the secure exchange of security-related information.

"With 2.0, the main difference is that it lets you connect multiple portals together," said Caccia, adding that the solution's user interface has also been simplified.

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Oblix has wrapped a diverse set of functions around the SAML standard. The company's SmartMaps identity mapping tool manages user authentication from one partner to the next. Oblix's SmartMarks supports bookmarks in protected Web pages even if a site times out, Caccia said.

For identity management market share, Oblix competes against such big dogs as RSA Security, IBM, Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard, as well as smaller firms such as Courion, OctetString and MaXware.

Jonathan Penn, principal analyst at Forrester Research, said that when it comes to a comparison of the field, Oblix's key strength is user management. "Oblix is very functional and flexible about what and how administration can be delegated out beyond the IT staff of the organization implementing it," he said.

"Another strength--though this is one which is shared by RSA--is [Oblix's] support for federated identity, being able to do single sign-on either across enterprises or across business and security boundaries within an organization," Penn said.

The Oblix SHAREid Certification speeds the secure addition of new federated partners by ensuring that those not running an Oblix platform have systems that support the proper SAML standard of interoperability, Caccia said.

Gary Miller, vice president of risk management at Qunara, a systems integrator and Oblix partner in Winnipeg, Manitoba, said his company recommends Oblix to customers not only because it goes head-to-head with larger providers of identity management, but also because Qunara sees eye-to-eye with Oblix's philosophy. "We tend to have a similar view as to what ID management really is. Oblix has thought about ID management as a core technology as opposed to other companies saying, 'We should just deal with user identity,' " Miller said.

It's important to note that the practice of peddling SAML-based identity management as a stand-alone product offering may be at its twilight, said Mike Neuenschwander, a senior analyst with the Burton Group. Neuenschwander said that at the rate SAML is proceeding, "a year from now everyone will have SAML, and it will likely become a feature in other core products, rather than being sold separately."