Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Looming Customization Support Issue

I have stumbled into to something recently that I believe warrants some discussion and that is - all of the Identity Management products that I have seen/evaluated require a serious amount of customization support that cannot be done by end users. Sure there is 'self service' but who sets that up and who changes the settings once it's set up and a policy changes.

As companies go through their software purchasing cycles one thing that is usually not covered in the process is post implementation support and who is going to do it and what it realistically is going to take in terms of skill and cost. The reason I know this is an issue is because the company I work for has been doing IdM/provisioning product implementations since 1998, before the term Identity management was coined mind you, and one of the key requests we had asked of us was - will you support this after it's deployed? Chances are your 20% support & Maintenance will get you patches, but won't cover the botched implementation of customized code.

The Support question is now being asked by many more companies and there are only a few vendors out there that offer it, let along have any references to point to to back up claims that they're covered.

Support can make or break a deployment folks.

Product vendors are in a VERY tough position because of the grey area created by the level of customization of the products and are asking themselves - where does the product (source code/out of the box application) support end and the customization support (not the product vendor's problem) begin?

Product vendors can and will spend incredible amounts of cash in this grey area of product support or customization support in the coming years. Big Companies who spend millions on software/hardware/services will beat the vendors into submission to support them beyond traditional product support because after all - it's the product that either has or caused the problem - right?

So whether you're a vendor or a company that has purchased or is looking at Identity Management for complaince, to cover your ass, or because it's just good business, look at the support issue. It's there and it's not going away.

In the spirit of full disclosure on this, I am in the business of offering this customization support and even have references. We do it for a Fortune 5 company and are working with product vendors to help them address the issue as well.


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