10 years ago in IdM

* Standards, Y2K and vendor 'solutions' dominated the identity mgmt. news a decade ago

Once a month we get nostalgic in the newsletter, and look back 10 years to see how far we've come. Today we'll see what the hot topics were in December 1999.

Standards were playing a big role as the year came to an end. Unfortunately, those standards were honored more in the breach and today seem like quaint relics of a bygone age.

The Directory Services Markup Language (DSML) version 1.0 had its first draft rolled out in public that month. It went on to adoption, transfer to OASIS and even made it to version 2.0, at which point the Technical Committee was terminated. The spec was rarely mentioned after that.

There was also news from the Directory Interoperability Forum (DIF) -- that Sun/Netscape had joined. DIF later joined the Open Group and eventually was renamed the Identity Management Forum. This organization published a white paper in 2004 and, while not officially terminated, haas been rather moribund ever since.

The big topic, though, was the immanent release of Windows Server 2000 with Active Directory. That topic, however, was mostly relegated to the Windows Networking newsletter.

Outside of this newsletter the major topic was the upcoming Y2K problem -- many software applications that only allocated two digits for the year in storing dates were expected to either fail or give anomalous results as soon as the New Year's Eve festivities were finished. I barely mentioned this because, being such new technology, directories weren't susceptible to the problem (they, for the most part, handled dates properly.)

Finally, I had some choice words about vendors who want to sell you "solutions." Words that are still valuable today:

"I go to a vendor to purchase products or services that enable me to solve a problem or fill a need. I don't go looking for solutions, since my problems or needs are unique to me -- if only in a minor way. If I can't figure out what the solution to my problem or need is, then I'll bring in a consultant. The consultant will be someone with no stake in the products or services being sold, who understands the area in which I'm bogged down in, and can suggest or recommend all of the products and services I'll need to correctly solve the situation.

"Kearns' axiom for solutions -- no single vendor has all of the products and services necessary to solve all my problems or fill all my needs. The corollary is that there are many vendors who have a part of the solution.

"Please don't come to me talking about solutions. I know what my problem or need is. I know how to solve it. Tell me what your products do, then let me decide if they fit into my solution."

Learn more about this topic

The Sound of Y2K

Internet Y2K monitoring plans outlined

The Open Group delves into identity management

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