Cisco Acquires Securent - moving policy decisions to the network layer

The consolidation of the IAM market is not a new phenomenon and has been following the following pattern: a large software company with a follower IAM product set acquires a smaller IAM vendor with a proven track record to update the IAM product and services portfolio and to secure increased market presence. The acquisition of Securent by Cisco is fairly different and highlights the following trends: 1) Entitlement Management is needed so much by the market that Cisco – even though it has not traditionally been a player in the IAM space – enters the market first with an Entitlement Management product. It is surprising, as only CA has an EM product today – all other IAM vendors are still trying to build their own as the other serious competitors on the EM market, BEA ALES is not for sale as a startup.  2) Entitlement Management may be moving (along with to IAM) to operations and to the network protocol level. In fact, Cisco intends to incorporate the Secucent EMS product into the policy engine of their SONA architecture. Policy Enforcement Points (PEP) are currently implemented at the application endpoint. With this acquisition, in the future customers can implement hybrid PEPs distributed between the network and the application, thus starting to move non-business policy logic into the infrastructure layer. The omnipresence of the network is obvious, but moving policy decisions securely (without compromising network payload privacy) to the network is not immediately convincing – network operations and GRC groups are still siloed at most organizations. Given the fact that enterprises are increasingly looking for integrated IAM stacks, the entry of Cisco into the entitlement management market will require a clear strategy of becoming a provider of IAM solutions either through organic growth or by acquisition.