Friday, February 16, 2024

Regarding the recent SAP IDM Announcement

 “Life begins like a dream, becomes a little real, and ends like a dream.” ― Michael Bassey Johnson, The Oneironaut’s Diary

As many of you already know, SAP has made public its plans on how SAP IDM will be retired as a supported offering. I’ve been stewing on this for a bit as I try to figure out exactly how I feel about this and what needs to happen next.

To be fair, I haven’t worked with the product much for just over four years, and even then, I was working more with Version 7 than with Version 8. My opinions are completely my own and do not represent my current employer, any previous employer, or SAP.

While IDM is certainly showing its age, there are some very good things about it that I would love to see as an open-source offering. First is the Batch Processing capabilities of IDM, based on the old MaXware Data Synchronization Engine/MetaCenter solutions. It features some powerful functionality to synchronize and cleanse data. It sets up fairly easily and is quite easy to configure. I’m sure the open-source community could do well with maintaining the UI (It definitely should be JAVA-based rather than the old Windows MMC) that will fit better in today’s Enterprise setting. Also, easy integration with SaaS services is a needed upgrade.

The other thing that should be released into the wild is the Virtual Directory. It also provides powerful functionality for several use cases, from pass-through authentication to assisting in M&A use cases. It’s the perfect example of a “Black Box” offering that just works. It also makes it much easier to synchronize and cleanse data by representing many different back ends via the easy-to-consume LDAP standard.

It saddens me that SAP is choosing to move away from IDM, as one of the key selling points of SAP IDM is its ability to integrate seamlessly with the SAP ecosystem. I hope SAP will help all LCM/IGA vendors connect more easily with systems. SaaS integration should be easy or standards-based, but we still need to be concerned for organizations still using on-premises SAP tools.

SAP has indicated that Microsoft’s Entra ID will be the main partner in the future, but I hope they make this information open to all vendors and that there will be continuing support of standard protocols. This article gives me some hope, but actions speak louder than words. I do have some concerns that SAP, known as a vast software ecosystem that supports itself and tends to ignore the enterprise, is handing off to another large software provider whose management tools tend to support their software ecosystem first and consider the enterprise second. Let’s face it: most of Microsoft’s Identity and Access Management efforts have been about supporting the Office 365 family of products. Don’t get me wrong; it’s better than SAP in this regard, but it’s not that high of a level to meet. For what it’s worth, I am guardedly optimistic, but I always try to remain hopeful.

Finally, I think it’s important to thank the IDM team in Sofia for all their hard work over the years, which, of course, would not have been possible without the vision and effort of the original MaXware team based in Trondheim, Norway, and associated teams in the UK, Australia, and the US. The production from these small teams helped define what Identity Management is to this day.

Will this be my last blog entry on the topic of SAP IDM? I don’t know. Part of it will depend on if there are any moves towards the Open Source world. There have been at least three times in my life when I thought I was done with this tool, and deep down, I’m pretty sure there is a little more in my future. 

In the meantime, I hope to resume blogging more regarding the Identity and Access Management field in the near future. Time will tell.

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