Hitachi moves deeper into identity management

At the RSA Conference this week, Hitachi announced it had purchased majority ownership in the software company M-Tech. The move gives Hitachi a deeper foothold in the developing marketing of identity management solutions, and puts M-Tech's identity management software and related services in with Hitachi's own information security portfolio. As part of the purchase, M-Tech is changing its name to Hitachi ID Systems Inc.

Hitachi's purchase of M-Tech comes at a time when factors such as data privacy and corporate compliance issues are further advancing usage of identity management. In a February 2008 report, Forrester Research indicated that the identity and access management (IAM) market was expected to grow from $2.6 billion in 2006 to more than $12.3 billion by 2014.

The software from M-Tech, which is designed for network security and self-service process for management of user passwords and access rights, ties in well with existing Hitachi expertise in the area of finger vein biometrics -- a type of biometric that reads the vein patterns in a finger. Hitachi developed a solution for computer log-on using finger vein biometrics in 2007, and the M-Tech software is expected to tie into that offering.

The biometric systems from Hitachi have also been used in the financial industry for ATM and account access as well as for general physical access control. In Japan, roughly 80 percent of financial institutions are using biometrics technologies at ATMs

M-Tech's core products for identity management include the P-Synch password management software and ID-Synch user provisioning software; those two systems have been deployed by around 700 organizations worldwide.

According to a press release from Hitachi, the company plans to leverage its channels to expand M-Tech's market, and will tie in with Hitachi solutions for biometrics, RFID and smart card systems.