An Interview with ForgeRock…

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Last week, I met with Daniel Raskin, VP marketing at ForgeRock, and John Barco, director of product marketing.

You may not have heard of ForgeRock, I hadn’t either, but that’s because they’ve launched quietly, building up their customer base before investing in a marketing push which began this August. They wanted to wait until they had something to shout about, and now it seems, they do.

‘The ForgeRockers’, which their PR representative affectionately refers to them as, launched the company in 2010 with $40,000 of seed capital. The vision was simple: “to deliver the best open source identity stack for securing anything, anywhere, on any device”.

The five co-founders (Lasse Andresen, CEO; Jonathan Scudder, architect; Hermann Svoren, EMEA sales; Steve Ferris, VP of support/services; and Victor Ake, Product Manager) built the company “by taking the parts and products that Oracle took away when acquiring Sun Microsystems in January 2010”. Approximately 50% of the company’s just-shy-of-100 staff are ex-Sun Microsystems employees, and when I insinuate that they have, in some respect ‘cheated’ – by taking an existing product concept and a talented team from a former company – Raskin does not disagree.

“Oracle didn’t buy Sun Microsystems for its identity offering, their strategy was different. But a huge amount of people bought into the open-source model”, thus leaving a gap in the market, explained Raskin. Rather than me ‘just about’ succeeding at explaining their open ID stack and how exactly the technology works, I refer you instead to their perfectly-crafted website, written with a refreshing ‘no-bull’ attitude, allowing you to get a real feel for the company values.

“We wanted the personality of ForgeRock to come through on the website”, Raskin explained to me. When I asked him to expand on that, he told me: “There’s a real focus and emphasis on family and work/life balance at ForgeRock. Our people are passionate about the product and there’s a real work hard/play hard environment”, he told me. “There is not a top-down culture, it’s similar to an academic environment, where people are encouraged to share ideas and work collaboratively.”

I mentioned earlier that PR refers to the staff as ‘ForgeRockers’ but you’ll see several references to them as a band throughout the website. “It’s part of the corporate ID”, explained Raskin, “the executive team like bands and music”. Even their business cards are designed to look like concern tickets. A little gimmicky? Perhaps. But it’s quirky and refreshing – I’m a fan.

One of the key objectives behind what ForgeRock do for their customers is to simplify security. “We want to make it easier to integrate, scale, manage and implement. Customers want one API across everything – they do not need everything to be separated, that’s just frustrating.”

The end user, ForgeRock believes, should be the focus. “We concentrate on what’s in the best interest of the end-user and architect our technology around that.”

“CISOs and CEOs are struggling to figure out how to control these domains, and they need to take back control. Traditional identity solutions are not built for millions of transactions”. This, I’m told, is where ForgeRock can help. With no cost of acquisition and no vendor lock-in, ForgeRock radiates confidence that their customers won’t want to exit. “Many vendors make the cost to exit twenty times the cost of the software itself”.

Before leaving the ForgeRockers in a tiny little pub in Russell Square, I asked Raskin and Barco whether the perimeter is dead. “No, but it has evolved”, Raskin told me. “It’s not dead – lots of people are still struggling to secure it. The drivers are different now, though – it’s less about DLP and more about the top-line investment and protecting the business.”

I suspect this may be the first you’ve heard of ForgeRock, but it certainly won’t be the last.

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