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Akamai has announced the acquisition of Janrain, a leading player in the customer identity and access management (CIAM) market, with plans to add the Janrain technology into its Intelligent Edge Platform. Ovum sees this move as a useful extension of Akamai's service offerings for enterprise customers.

CIAM is a natural extension of Akamai's services

CIAM is where traditional IAM and customer relationship management (CRM) meet, and its importance continues to grow as online interactions (including mobile ones) with customers become more prevalent than face-to-face meetings. The challenges for CIAM are the opposite of traditional IAM – the business-to-employee (B2E) paradigm of identity services in terms of the number of users and the information available to identify and authenticate them.

IAM addresses user numbers that, in even the biggest companies in the world, rarely exceed a few hundred thousand and, because they are employees, there is a lot of information about them, usually held in something like Active Directory. CIAM, by contrast, is built for user numbers in the multimillions and for scenarios in which there is frequently only scant information about these individuals beyond their name and credit card details. Another important difference is that IAM started life as software for deployment on customer premises, whereas CIAM, which is first and foremost an enabler of e-commerce, was born in the cloud.

There are around 20 CIAM vendors, many of them still in the startup category, and there has already been some merger and acquisition activity that, not surprisingly, has come primarily from identity or CRM vendors: identity-as-a-service vendor Ping Identity bought UnboundID in 2016, and CRM heavyweight SAP acquired Gigya in 2017.

Its cloud-native nature makes CIAM a logical extension of Akamai's offerings and the Janrain acquisition makes much more sense than trying to barge into the overcrowded IAM space.


Further reading

On the Radar: Janrain is the first CIAM vendor to integrate fraud detection technologies, IT0022-000932 (April 2017)

Emerging Vendors in the IDaaS Market, IT0022-000809 (November 2016)

"Ping UnboundID acquisition shows B2C is the future of identity," IT0022-000781 (September 2016)


Rik Turner, Principal Analyst, Infrastructure Solutions

[email protected]