Welcome to the world of massive scale customer identity and the Internet of Things
While we at ForgeRock applaud the Ping Identity acquisition of UnBoundID, we don’t envy Ping’s new challenge of integrating two architecturally unique technologies to solve the complex problems of customer-facing identity. Ping has a good identity federation product, and it’s clear that the strategy is to pair up with UnboundID’s directory services capabilities. This will enable Ping to get in position to start to address the customer-facing identity market, rather than just the conventional internal identity and access management market where they’ve been successful. I must say, we feel validated and humbly proud when respected companies like Ping confirm our long-held position that there is indeed a difference between traditional internal identity and access management and customer facing identity and access management.
But now what? Ping and UnBound represent a best-of-breed approach to legacy identity management. Oracle and CA have both taken this approach of acquiring point solutions and integrating them together to market a “single vendor solution.” It makes sense. Companies certainly prefer dealing with fewer vendors. Ping Identity customers will benefit from the contractual and support simplification of dealing with a single entity going forward. Vendor consolidation, however, only plugs a hole. What the market demands today is a purpose-built unified platform for customer identity and access management that supports hundreds of millions of people, devices and things.
Indeed, only a unified, fully integrated platform can quickly scale to handle hundreds of millions of individuals, devices and things – or process as many as 50,000+ transactions per second (token validations, authentications, etc.). And these numbers represent table stakes in the customer identity world today. Securing millions of identities, devices and things also requires end-to-end security, and the ability to manage and personalize highly complex relationships between them. Additionally, as the Internet of Things becomes central to modern life, these challenges will continue to grow. Digital identity has become critical to securing all kinds of interactions – mobile banking, smart car, smart home, industrial logistics, healthcare and more. Only an open standards, functionally comprehensive identity platform is capable of supporting these kinds of interactions today, and going forward, as the IoT transforms multiple industries in the years to come.
So while we see this acquisition as a logical move for Ping given the saturation of the internal identity market, it’s been our long experience that customer identity is hard. Internal identity requires a solution that protects a company’s assets from bad guys, and only allows access to a company’s prized data and applications to a population limited by the number of employees in the company. Closed-sourced technology works well in that kind of environment, but not so much with the wider world of customer identity. Customer identity presents a fresh set of complexities over and above those of internal identity. The challenge for Ping will come in integrating UnboundID’s technology with its own to offer a seamless identity solution with the capabilities outlined above. This integration process will be complex and take considerable time to get right.
We understand these challenges at ForgeRock, because we’ve been doing customer identity management since our founding six years ago. Our comprehensive open source identity platform – featuring proven access management, identity management, identity gateway, directory services and more in a fully integrated solution – has been serving the customer identity market going back to 2010. The ForgeRock platform is successfully supporting enterprise-grade customer implementations at companies including TomTom, Thomson Reuters, GEICO and DHL, and many public-sector implementations for citizens in countries around the globe.
So welcome to our world Ping Identity – and welcome to the world of customer identity! We love it here.
Mike Ellis is ForgeRock’s CEO.