Microsoft to release identity product

* Identity Lifecycle Manager "2" touts self-service tools and user-friendly XML structure

My primary interest at last week's European version of The Experts Conference was Microsoft's upcoming Forefront Identity Manager 2010. If you haven't been following closely, you might know this soon to release product as Identity Lifecycle Manager (ILM) "2".

My primary interest at last week's European version of The Experts Conference was Microsoft's upcoming Forefront Identity Manager 2010. If you haven't been following closely, you might know this soon to release product as Identity Lifecycle Manager (ILM) "2" (I don't know why there are quote marks around the number 2, but it is always written that way).

Thus, FIM is the successor to ILM, which was the successor to Microsoft Identity Integration Server (MIIS), which was the successor to the Microsoft Metadirectory Service (MMS) and on and on. None of these, if memory serves, ever reached version 2. I used to complain about how Sun Microsystems would constantly tinker with the name of their directory product, but even they occasionally got out a version 2 (or higher).

Still, FIM is an interesting product, perhaps the first really useful edition in this product family. While Microsoft touts the new self-service tools in FIM, what I really like is its XML structure.

Yes, XML structure. FIM 2010 uses a native XML database to create better opportunities for easy to use transfer, import and export of data. Not only does that make it easier to use, it makes it very interoperable with other identity sources  and a large selection of data sources (databases and so on).

Also, Microsoft finally has a product that can successfully manage SharePoint. SharePoint access management has been a big seller for a number of Microsoft partners, so it will be interesting to see how Redmond does in head-to-head competition with them.

FIM 2010 also should be a boon to auditors and regulators as its extensive API allows for plenty of hooks for third party auditing tools to connect to.

All in all, this is the best identity product I've seen from Microsoft since Cardspace. If you're heavily invested in Microsoft technology, if you're looking at Microsoft Azure for cloud computing possibilities or if you feel that Active Directory should be the basis of your organization's identity stack, then you should definitely look at Forefront Identity Manager 2010, and even download the release candidate  to take it for a test drive.

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