Comparing Comprehensive Solutions vs. Best of Breed

Ralph DeFrangesco

At the beginning of the month, I said that throughout June, I would post about identity and access management. Well, we have reached the end of the month and I think some final thoughts are in order. In my last post about the topic, I said that I would talk about best of breed versus a single comprehensive solution.


I can easily make positive and negative comments about both solutions. In general, I favor a single comprehensive solution. Let me give you my top reasons why:


  • When I have a support problem, I like going to just one vendor.
  • What really gets me is when I am using a best-of-breed solution and one vendor updates its software -- but the others do not.
  • Generally, packages integrate better in a comprehensive solution. (Granted, not always.)
  • If packages overlap, and a lot of best-of-breed packages do today, then I am paying for redundant functionality.
  • Comprehensive solutions tend to have the same look and feel, making them easier to learn and use.
  • Comprehensive solutions tend to have lower costs.
  • I like writing just one check at the beginning of the year.


In some cases, you might not have a choice. Companies like Oracle and Computer Associates are buying up best-of-breed companies, leaving us with fewer choices. As I said, I tend to favor a comprehensive solution. To truly make a decision, though, we need to take a few factors into consideration: organization size, culture, complexity, budget, technical ability, environment and requirements. My experience has been that companies are taking a comprehensive approach and using best of breed to fill in the gaps.


In the end, it does not matter what type of solution you choose, comprehensive, best of breed, or the combination that I described. What matters is that you have a clear understanding of what you need and what your vendor is offering.

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Jul 1, 2009 11:31 AM M Ellard M Ellard  says:

Thanks for the post. Your comment: "...companies are taking a comprehensive approach and using best of breed to fill in the gaps" - gets right to the essence of things. Companies that offer comprehensive solutions are often more consultative - the smart ones sell a relationship, not just software. And , more and more, they are ensuring that their offerings have the flexibility to accommodate those best-in-breed add-ons more and more easily - or buying up the best-in-breed and integrating them to expand their offerings!

Jul 4, 2009 6:06 AM alexander jr. unabia alexander jr. unabia  says: in response to M Ellard

i will hope

Jul 23, 2009 3:17 AM Dominique Levin Dominique Levin  says:

Best of need suites can deliver better security at a lower total costs of ownership ...  if ... "big IF" the piece parts are staying up to date with the latest threats.  As long as the threat landscape continues to evolve at a torrent rate, we need a compromise.  Medium-sized and innovative companies with a focused product portfolio. McAfee is an example of a "focused" suite vendor.  More than one product, but much more of a security pure play than Oracle or Computer Associates.  Another example is LogLogic ( - full disclosure: I work there - is another example. LogLogic is a medium sized company building a portfolio in security and log management.  LogLogic recently acquired another private company with two complementary product lines (Exaprotect) in security event management and security change management.  The combined products deliver better visibility and control at a lower cost. More on the acquisition here:

Jul 24, 2009 1:47 AM Jenna Boller Jenna Boller  says: in response to Dominique Levin

Dominique, I like your blog response, "Medium Sized Vendors Are Best Positioned in the Security Battle," here:


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