The death of identity and access has been greatly exaggerated

Earlier this month Microsoft announced that its Microsoft Partner Network – MPN – Competencies are evolving. Change runs as a constant through the IT industry and so this could have easily been be passed off as “non-news”, except that among the changes announced is the retirement of Identity and Access.

The death of identity and access?

This gave rise to a brief attack of existential angst in the identity and access community – of which Oxford Computer Group is a significant part – leading at least one blogger to announce the death of Microsoft Identity Manager – MIM – among other things.

What’s going on?

First, what are MPN Competencies? They are a way for Microsoft to group together partner capabilities under a title which (hopefully) will mean something to customer and partners, for marketing and other purposes. From time to time they rethink these “competencies” – presumably in response to the changing marketing trends, and to suit their own aims.

It’s largely a matter of nomenclature. Products and solutions which used to come under one particular competency might find themselves reshuffled and appear under another. This can cause havoc with our messaging, of course – which is why there is an 18th month transition period – but it doesn’t say a great deal about the products that sit under them.

In this case, MIM will find a new home under Enterprise Mobility Management – and I think this is just as good a place. I suspect that as many people are confused by what that is, as were confused by “Identity and Access”.  Sorry, what I meant to say was that “Enterprise Mobility Management” may well be more meaningful to our potential customers.

Alex Simons, Microsoft’s Director of Program Management, Identity Division, responded to the cry that identity and access is dead, by saying:  “we have more engineers working on Identity and Access Management today (600+ across the cloud and on-premises) than we have ever had before at Microsoft!” So, no existential angst there.

He says: “This focus area has just been combined … as part of the shift we are seeing among customers to a modern end-user productivity model which merges Identity, Mobility and Information Protection together to enable workers to get their jobs done wherever they are.”

As for MIM – well we have seen a significant uptick in MIM training this year, and a good pipeline of MIM consulting ahead. And this is to be expected. Underpinning success in the cloud is a well-engineered Identity and Access infrastructure – and that is usually a hybrid on-premises/cloud infrastructure involving MIM, AD, Azure AD and much more. You can call it what you like, but it is still there.

There is no doubt that the death of identity and access has been greatly exaggerated.

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