ForgeRock as a Contender

Saw a couple of posts over on Martin Sandren’s blog that were linked up on Ludo’s.

Stockholm Syndrome and Gartner provisioning quadrant follows Challengers: ForgeRock in taking a good, hard look at Gartner’s magic quadrant for provisioning.

Although my main interest in ForgeRock right now revolves around their directory server (OpenDJ) and access management (OpenAM) products, it was good to see them mentioned in the user provisioning space as well — having had a rough ride through that territory more than a couple of times over the years (the last on a now dormant POC using that Big Database Vendor’s solution).

This line from the first post caught my eye:

The main issue with Forgerock is the same thing that doomed Sun. It is a technology and engineering driven company that builds excellent products which is great if you are an end user company is mature enough to take a flexible platform and shape it to what you need.

“That’s us!”, was my immediate reaction, thinking of my own company’s smaller but well-seasoned IT team (average length of service must be on the order of between one and two decades at this point — I’m in the middle of that range). “Is this really a criticism? I mean, what company in their right mind would try to deploy an enterprise provisioning solution solely with consulting resources?”

Yeah, I know, “the dream lives on” — in spite of the cold water of failed “rapid deployment” consultant-driven IT projects having nearly drowned so many IT organizations over the last decade.

What ForgeRock owns right now are those “excellent products”. They also have a very small but also very experienced team of developers actively working on those products. Martin’s main criticism is that they may not currently have sufficient bench strength in the identity consulting community to compete with the “big boys”. But given how badly those big vendors have botched both their product development and end user support, I’m not sure that’s still a valid critique. All those other guys still have is brand appeal, but I think that’s been fading fast as the number of failed projects keeps piling up (not that anyone ever admits to failure — but we all know the real deal).

And that is a very big deal because, as Martin writes:

… Forgerock offers a very competitive IAM platform that can be customized to fit your needs without breaking the core application. In the end it is much easier to build a nice front end for a stable, flexible and strong back end than doing the reverse exercise.

(emphasis mine)

That part about being able to customize “without breaking the core application” is a shot across the bow of all the closed source vendors who haunt the upper right corner of Gartner’s quadrant. It may even be key.

I guess time will tell.