Access control is one of those venerable categories that has been around since information security began as a formal discipline “in the 1970s as individuals began to break into telephone systems."1 The approaches to access control have varied over the decades, but today the challenges are greater than ever.

As we discussed with our selected vendors the various categories in this year's Innovator section, we found that there are many approaches to security and, indeed, many of those approaches are quite unique. However, at the end of the day – whether it is acknowledged formally or not – everything has to do with access control in one form or another. It does not matter whether you are trying to control who can do what with a data asset or whether you are trying to figure out what has happened on your system and who is responsible. There is no escaping that the key is controlling who – or what – can access an asset.

Every year we begin the Innovator section with access control and that is no accident since the category really defines – arguably – the whole of information protection or what has come to be called “cybersecurity.” The main difference between the Innovators that we will highlight here and those in other categories is that these vendors make access control their focus. We have two top Innovators this year and their approaches are quite different. One is a system that encompasses a lot of other security products while the other is reasonably standalone as a solution to the access control challenge.

As with all of our products and vendors in the Innovator issue, we make no recommendations. Of course, we will summarize such things as cost and what we believe is innovative, but the rest is up to you. The two vendors in this access control section certainly are worth your consideration, but they by no means define the entire field. So, with that in mind, and a few words to define our various sections this year, let's proceed to the first of our Innovators.

1 For a fascinating history of computer security see