Identity makes its mark in the Linux world

* Identity management announcements at the LinuxWorld conference

It was a busy week last week for the big boys of identity, Oracle and Novell, which made a fistful of major announcements at the most unlikely of places for identity news – the LinuxWorld conference.

Up until the last year or two the annual LinuxWorld conference was one place you could be sure there’d be no announcements in the identity sphere because identity, security, privacy, etc., seemed foreign to the open source operating system. But as two of the biggest movers and shakers in the world of Linux are also two of the biggest in the world of identity, this has changed, and both Novell and Oracle had interesting things to say.

Oracle announced the strangely named Oracle Authentication Services for Operating Systems. Odd because it’s only aimed at one operating system, Linux. But it will be (when deployed with Oracle Internet Directory) a full-blown authentication and authorization system for the rapidly spreading open source OS. Available now in a preview release, Oracle Authentication Services for Operating Systems features a secure and efficient means for user authentication with “zero-touch” administration of the directory since it enables administrators running Linux to use existing graphical and command-line user management tools to manage users - relieving them of the need to craft new processes for everything from adding a user to changing a password. The ultimate in plug-and-play authentication. You can download the preview now to get a taste.

Novell, which believed it had already hooked the Linux authentication market with eDirectory running on Linux, announced a major advance in authentication with partner, Fujitsu Microelectronics America. The two companies released a suite of new biometric login kits for Novell eDirectory.

Fujitsu has combined its existing fingerprint sensor technology with software specifically developed by 123ID, a software developer specializing in pattern analysis and fingerprint matching. The resulting biometric solution replaces password authentication for transaction-type identification and verification in eDirectory. To authenticate themselves and access eDirectory, users simply touch the fingerprint sensor and are accepted by “Identify,” a feature of the Fujitsu eDirectory login system that provides a complete one-to-many authentication.

Novell also announced some new initiatives with IBM at LinuxWorld, but not in the identity space. Still, IBM did have a novel announcement last week as it launched a new version of WebSphere RFID Information Center (RFIDIC), a high performance data repository that allows clients to efficiently manage and share securely information with trading partners to authenticate pharmaceuticals as part of the ePedigree initiative. This is a U.S. national initiative to protect against counterfeit drugs by uniquely identifying and tagging shipments all the way through the supply chain. It serves to remind us that “identity” is not simply a human attribute, but an attribute of most things - animate and inanimate.

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