Big-Name Vendors Get Into Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Access

The Web Access Management (WAM) marketplace -- which offers business users the security technology needed to manage such tasks as authentication, single sign-on, and authorization for Web-based applications -- remains divided between a handful of large vendors leading the space and a number of niche vendors who have been unable to adequately differentiate themselves, according to Gartner's recent 2007 Magic Quadrant for WAM. As the software-as-a-service delivery model has grown increasingly popular among CRM users and others, Web access has moved from a predominantly customer-facing requirement to an enterprisewide need. The players in the field, according to Gartner's assessment, are: Leaders:
    IBM; Oracle; Sun, a new member of the Leader cohort, having improved from the previous survey's Challenger Quadrant; CA; and Novell.
    RSA (now part of EMC), which dropped in Gartner's estimation, from its previous Leader ranking; HP, which moved in the other direction, from Niche Player to Visionary; and Entrust.
Niche Players:
    Evidian; BMC Software, which fell from Visionary to Niche Player; Siemens, one of two new entrants in Gartner's field of top players this time around; PassGo; Entegrity Solutions; and Cafesoft, the other new vendor on the list.
Two vendors, on the other hand, failed to make the cut in this most recent WAM Magic Quadrant: Ping Identity and Microsoft. Overall, though, the dynamics of the WAM marketplace remain unchanged, according to Gartner, with the Leaders lapping up most of the market share. (IBM, with roughly 40 percent market share, is the standout.) The research firm says it expects this trend to accelerate, putting smaller WAM vendors at risk of falling off the map. Gartner's report indicates that the research firm see the WAM vendors in its Leaders Quadrant as being better placed to meet the compliance and audit requirements that have become ubiquitous in today's regulatory environment, support multi-user enterprise installations, and offer a broad range of WAM functionality including identity federation, user provisioning, Web services security, and database-facing security. One of the most important challenges confronting all WAM vendors in the year ahead, according to the report, is to educate the enterprise marketplace about value of managing application authorization over and above managing user identities. The distinction is subtle but vital, explains WAM Magic Quadrant co-author Earl Perkins: "What [WAM] offers that identity management doesn't is the means to actually use the identities that are created in the 'identity' part of identity management (which we call user provisioning) to authorize users' specific levels of access into applications." He adds that, with WAM, businesses need not hard-code or embed authorization decisions within each new application as it is written. WAM becomes the "foundation environment within identity and access management that proposes to manage this external, standardized authorization framework for applications." Gartner Analyst Ray Wagner, the report's other co-author, builds on this explanation by identifying the value of WAM in the context of single sign-on: "WAM is an access-control facility," he says. "It actually acts as a gateway into applications and resources rather than having the applications themselves act as the gateway, which allows for single sign-on to the applications protected by the WAM." Extranets and other exposed Web assets are increasingly important IT resources whose value, Gartner argues, needs to be protected with a well-executed WAM strategy. Over the past few years, enterprises have been extremely active in creating Web assets for employees, partners, and customers. Over the next few years, if Gartner's advice is heeded, enterprises will become just as active in securing their assets via WAM.

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