This week Gartner announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire Burton Group for $56M. The news came fast on the heels of Gartner’s acquisition of AMR which it only completed at the end of December last year. Reaction to the announcement has largely focused on the accelerating trend toward consolidation in the IT analyst marketplace. While this is important, I see this news as having a different significance.
Although Burton Group is a well-diversified company that covers many technologies, it is best known for its considerable expertise in the identity and security management markets. As a leader in this space Novell has enjoyed a long relationship with Burton Group and have benefited from their advice and their support.
I believe the acquisition is a significant move by Gartner because it clearly signals the strategic importance of identity and security management in the company’s overall portfolio of advisory services. Identity and security have long been a top-line priority for CIOs and CTOs, and the move to virtualization and cloud computing are only accentuating these concerns. Indeed, security and identity concerns are ranked the top impediments to adopting a cloud-based infrastructure, according to CxOs at major companies polled by IDC.
In a recent blog post on identity management by Gartner analyst Neil MacDonald, he wrote:
“…as we move to virtualize and secure our next-generation data center infrastructure, security policies can’t be tied to physical attributes. Security policies must be tied to logical attributes including virtual machine identities, application identities, as well as user and group identities. All security policy enforcement points (firewalls, IPSs, web security gateways, and so on) should become identity-aware.”
We concur. Identity-awareness must be intrinsic to all IT workloads, rather than being abstracted into a management framework. Only then will organizations reap the efficiency, cost and flexibility benefits inherent in next-generation data centers that leverage virtualization and cloud computing. We’re seeing a new market emerge for intelligent workload management solutions that are identity-aware and can, as MacDonald points out, tie security policies to physical and logical attributes, as well as user and group identities.
I believe this is a good move for both companies and our industry at large.