IBM buys Lighthouse, expands cloud offering

Rich Turner/Ovum
20 Aug 2014

IBM has acquired Lighthouse Security Group, a provider of cloud-based identity and access management (IAM) services. The deal comes less than a week after it acquired Cross Ideas, an Italian developer of IAM analytics to enable governance, and shows the IT heavyweight building out its capabilities for the next generation of IAM challenges.

Lighthouse was a logical acquisition for IBM because it provides IAM as a cloud-based service, which IBM itself doesn’t currently do, and it does it using IBM’s IAM software stack.

Lighthouse’s Gateway platform is essentially IBM IAM as a service with some enhancements; it is what IBM might have developed itself had it invested time and money in doing so. This makes it easier to offer IBM’s existing IAM customer base a cloud-based offering, as migration will be more straightforward than if Lighthouse used another tech platform.

Lighthouse also brings IBM an existing customer base of 14 million identities managed across 57 countries. They will already be IBM licensees, but now the service revenue will also go to IBM. The company said it would now look to develop a pure fee-based alternative, whereby the software and the service will all be paid for as a monthly open item.

Whether Lighthouse will enable significant new customer wins for IBM remains to be seen. Customers of on premise IAM platforms certainly don’t tend to shift easily, given the pain involved in a wholesale rip-and-replace operation. A cloud-based alternative, on the other hand, might be more attractive if they are approaching the end of their existing IAM licenses or are dissatisfied with their current provider.

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