nCipher buys Abridean

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The market for identity management technologies is consolidating and—as predicted in a bullseye report published by Bloor Research in the past few weeks—Abridean has just been acquired. The acquiring company, nCipher, has announced a conditional agreement to purchase a majority of the voting capital of Abridean, with the intention being to ultimately purchase all outstanding common stock of Abridean in order to complete the acquisition.

nCipher is a vendor of cryptographic security solutions. It claims to be the market leader in Hardware Security Modules (HSM), which acts like a safety deposit box for SSL certificates and keys. HSMs are widely used in financial services companies, trading companies and other sectors with large public key infrastructures. Most recently, nCipher released a new enterprise key management solution, the keyAuthority product suite, which is a certificate server linked to an HSM. These products are of great value in providing a higher level of trust in the management of keys, enabling companies to audit their security controls across application and functional boundaries.

The company to be acquired, Abridean, offers provisioning technologies for achieving fast, authenticated access to corporate resources or for removing access rights when they are no longer required. Relatively cheap and easy to implement, Abridean’s technology is aimed at mid to large-scale enterprises and provides the means to improve employee productivity, enhance security and help in efforts to achieve regulatory and industry-specific compliance goals.

In Bloor Research’s recent bullseye report on identity management, Abridean received a silver medal among provisioning vendors, being particularly commended for the ‘ease of implementation’ and ‘value for money’ offered by its technology offerings. It also scored highly in the ‘fit for purpose’ category, with a tightly focused solution aimed at solving particular points of pain for mid-sized companies in the areas of provisioning, password management and regulatory compliance.

The acquisition of Abridean is a good strategic fit for nCipher and allows it to start cashing in on the broader market opportunity offered by enterprises implementing identity management technologies to improve their bottom lines, and increase security and accountability. Although this is a wave that is only just at its beginning, Bloor Research expects this to be a major area of investment for companies during the coming decade. It will allow nCipher to address the demands for a unified, robust and secure approach to authentication and the management of access rights.

It is also a good fit considering the promise that identity management technologies hold in allowing companies to federate identities for access rights and authentication across different parts of their business, or across networks that include business partners and other suppliers. To do this effectively, all companies involved need to trust the identities of all users on the network, which in many cases involves stronger forms of authentication than mere user IDs and passwords. Stronger authentication is already being mandated in some environments, such as the US federal government and among some financial services organisations.

This acquisition places nCipher in a good position to cater to such demands and will give it the reach to act as a trust engine for a wider set of companies through their ongoing or proposed identity management technology implementations.