VeriSign, IBM strike security pact

The broad security alliance includes joint sales, marketing and technology efforts that could widen the Internet security company's access to large corporate customers.

3 min read
VeriSign on Tuesday will announce a broad security alliance with IBM that includes joint sales, marketing and technology efforts that could widen the Internet security company's access to large corporate customers.

As part of the deal, VeriSign's Internet security services will now be sold and distributed through IBM's 150,000-strong services group, according to the companies. Terms of the multiyear pact, which also covers joint marketing and technology efforts, were not disclosed.

IBM and VeriSign also plan to integrate security software efforts to provide a new "entitlements"-based management service that will provide a company with the means to allow selective access to corporate data by a computer user. For example, a human resources executive might get access only to those business applications required to do their job while being locked out of sales applications. The new service will be available by midyear, according to Verisign executives.

Hoping for a greater chunk of the Internet-based computing market, IBM can latch onto an increasingly important trend through Verisign--security and authentication services within companies as those customers open their internal systems to important partners. VeriSign, meanwhile, can cultivate new customers through IBM's vast Global Services Group.

"That really is the key part of the alliance," said Anil Pereira, senior vice president and group general manager for VeriSign's enterprise and service provider division. "To get in the draft of the (IBM consulting) jetstream."

VeriSign has been busy in recent months forging partnerships with a wide array of Internet and technology companies in the hopes of becoming the de facto security and infrastructure "plumbing" for the Internet. It has already struck deals with both Microsoft and Sun Microsystems' Liberty Alliance Web services efforts, and closed 2001 with a new alliance with online financial software company Intuit.

Gartner analyst Vic Wheatman says the new relationship with VeriSign for a network-based service signals IBM's strong confidence in supporting an evolving service from VeriSign.

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IBM executives said they hoped to take a chunk of the developing market for outsourced computing, or what the company calls an "e-utility," said Elizabeth Primrose-Smith, vice president of global security solutions for Big Blue. By turning to IBM's services division, for example, a corporation could obviate the need to purchase internal systems to manage its online security needs. Instead, that service could be delivered across the Internet or a private connection using systems housed by IBM.

As part of the pact, IBM will also provide server-systems technology to VeriSign to host the duo's new entitlements service. VeriSign executives said the use of IBM systems is an "expansion" of its infrastructure and does not displace another systems company. VeriSign has been a large Sun customer in the past.

The service will be one of several joint technologies delivered by the two companies, executives said. The initial entitlement service will use VeriSign's public key infrastructure, or PKI, technology--a tool previously offered within IBM--and Big Blue's Tivoli Policy Director management software. IBM executives said VeriSign's technology would extend its own security products.

In addition, IBM and VeriSign said they would work to advance key emerging standards in security and Web services--a much-hyped Internet-based software thrust that has caught the eye of the industry's largest companies.