BMC has killed its .Net Identity Management product suite in part because partner Microsoft is squeezing BMC out with development of its own identity software, according to an internal Microsoft memo.

BMC in early May quietly ended investment and development in the .Net Identity Management suite with the current version 5.2 being the final edition. Planned enhancements, such as support for the Service Provisioning Markup Language, have also been killed.

The details were revealed in a memo Microsoft sent last week to an internal email distribution list.

BMC .Net Identity Management is a suite of identity management tools, such as access control, provisioning, workflow, single sign-on and user self-service, that run on top of Microsoft’s Identity Lifecycle Manager (ILM) 2007 (formerly called Microsoft Identity Information Server).

The memo highlights a growing rift between Microsoft and its partners that develop identity management software for the Windows platform. Like BMC, Omada’s identity software requires the use of ILM, while Quest and NetPro list ILM as a platform option.

BMC has a similar Java-based identity management suite it will continue to sell in competition against Microsoft and others such as IBM.

The rift centres on ILM 2007, which is expanding to offer similar tools to BMC and others. It is ILM, which offers synchronisation, provisioning and management tools, that led BMC to kill is Windows-based identity platform, according to the memo.

The memo also cited features such as password management, password synchronisation and self-service coming in ILM 2.0, slated to go into beta in mid-2007, that contributed to BMC’s decision.

In the memo Microsoft said, “[BMC’s] decision was driven by the fact that Microsoft’s announcement of ILM “2” and subsequent launch of ILM 2007 has led to significant feature overlap with BMC’s .NET suite, both now and in the future.”

Neither BMC nor Microsoft returned requests for comment for this story.

“Microsoft has made a very stated point that they are going to come out and solve a number of identity problems that their partners have been solving for more than five years now,” said one recipient of the memo who wished to remain anonymous.

Those solutions include ILM 2.0 and auditing and reporting capabilities being built into Microsoft’s emerging System Centre management platform.

“It doesn’t do Microsoft any good when they start building software that their customers have been making a viable market around for a number of years,” said the recipient.

The recipient added that from an end-user stand point, Microsoft has not had depth or breadth or market strength in its identity infrastructure, specifically access management and provisioning, so the support from third-party partners has become vital.

BMC’s withdrawal leaves holes in Microsoft’s identity platform, since BMC was the only vendor providing connectors to non-Microsoft web platforms such as BEA WebLogic and IBM WebSphere.

While some experts say Microsoft has not been a model partner to third-party vendors in the identity space, they say that BMC also represented the weakest link among its identity partners.

BMC did not start from a position of strength with the .Net Identity Management platform, which included software acquired when BMC bought OpenNetwork Technologies in 2005. At the time, OpenNetwork was near collapse and had just more than 60 customers, according to Mike Neuenschwander, an analyst with the Burton Group.

“OpenNetwork had done a lot to align with Microsoft and that did not work too well for them,” says Neuenschwander. “I was surprised to see BMC try the same thing. I don’t think this was entirely Microsoft’s fault. But let’s face it, Microsoft is not a good partner in this space.”

Neuenschwander says market dynamics and competition with the likes of IBM and Oracle hurt BMC’s Windows-based identity platform as much as Microsoft being a difficult collaborator.

Competitors have recognised that BMC’s .Net identity business was hurting, rumours were that the company was losing upwards of $3 million (£1.5m) per year, but they do not discount the pressure Microsoft can put on partners. It has done the same thing in both the email and database markets over the years.

Microsoft told its sales team in the memo to inform end-users about the BMC withdrawal and to offer alternatives, potentially with partners Omada and Quest.

Customers currently using BMC products will continue to get support and maintenance, according to the memo. BMC will sell .Net Identity Management 5.2 to users that find it meets their needs, but will not sell to those seeking modifications or enhancements beyond the base platform.

Microsoft also said in the memo it had no interest in acquiring the BMC assets.