Comparing Comprehensive Solutions vs. Best of Breed


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.