Oblix makes Web services bid, buying Confluent

Company's tools will provide way to set policies for how users and applications behave on network

Oblix Inc., a maker of software for managing user identities on corporate networks, said Wednesday that it is expanding into the Web services arena, acquiring Confluent Software Inc. for an undisclosed sum.

The purchase of Confluent of Sunnyvale, California, to be formally announced on Monday, will add that company's Web services and application management tools to Oblix's portfolio, enabling Oblix to set policies that control the way both human users and software applications behave on corporate networks, said Ken Sims, vice president of marketing at Oblix.

Confluent and Oblix, also of Sunnyvale, are privately held and are not revealing many details of the all-stock transaction. However, key members of Confluent's development and management team will join as part of the integration of the two companies, which is expected to be complete in weeks, Sims said.

Oblix decided on the acquisition after many of its customers expressed an interest in expanding the company's identity management architecture to manage Web applications and Web portals, Sims said.

For companies that have already invested in identity management technology, adding technology for managing Web applications and servers is a natural second step, he said.

Confluent was attractive to Oblix because the two companies already shared customers and because Confluent's client-based architecture was similar to Oblix's, said Rick Caccia, director of product management at Oblix.

Like Oblix, Confluent uses software agents deployed on application servers that communicate with a central server that contains and manages security policies affecting those devices.

"At a high level, the architecture is almost identical," Caccia said.

In addition, Confluent's Gateway enforcement devices can already communicate with Oblix software agents, passing on user authentication and authorization requests to devices using the Oblix agent, said Paola Lubet, vice president of marketing at Confluent.

Oblix will sell its enterprise identity management products and Confluent's Web services management technology as separate but linked products within the same product family. Eventually, Oblix will add unified monitoring and consoles that blend the two products together, Caccia said.

As an example of what Oblix hopes to accomplish with the Confluent purchase, Sims pointed to Oblix's announcement Tuesday of a deal to provide identity management services to the U.S. Postal Service.

That deal is the first step in moving the Postal Services to a Web services model that will give customers Web-based access to applications and services, he said.

The addition of Confluent's technology to Oblix's stable of products will provide additional opportunities for Oblix to sell into accounts such as the Postal Service and other large enterprises as they move more and more business to the Web, Sims said.