RSA Conference demonstrates cooperation in the identity space

* Identity management happenings at RSA ‘07

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I thought the identity content of last week’s RSA Conference was down, while identity-related vendor participation was up. I think I was right. Maybe, though, the quality of the content was up even if the quantity was down. The last newsletter showed that identity (along with security) took center stage for the opening keynote from Bill Gates, but a more intriguing session took place the day before when an interoperability demonstration – put on by the Liberty Alliance folks – played to a standing-room-only crowd. Hundreds of folks gathered round to watch as the (rather boring, actually) demonstration unfolded.

Mary Ruddy (from the Higgins Project), Dale Olds (Novell, and the Bandit Project) and Pamela Dingle (the Pamela Project) got together to show us a reference application that demonstrated open source identity services that are interoperable with Microsoft's Windows CardSpace system and enable Liberty Alliance-based identity federation via Novell Access Manager.

<aside> The complete reference application is available from the Bandit Project so you can recreate the excitement in your own living room!</aside>

While it wasn’t breathtaking, and certainly didn’t draw the press coverage that Bill Gate’s mention of OpenID provoked, it was part and parcel of the seemingly unlimited cooperation that Gate’s announcement fostered. Here we had the Liberty specifications interoperating with CardSpace just a day before Gates committed to making CardSpace work with OpenID. So within less than 24 hours we had commitment and demonstration of interoperability among the three leading (some might say only) identity federation architectures available today. That is ground breaking news.

There is a realization occurring that identity is becoming core to computing and that the major enablers of identity will be simplified sign-on (SSO) and federation. The ability to support SSO across multiple platforms and clients is crucial. And with platforms ranging from servers to desktops to laptops to palmtops to cell phones to game machines to who knows what in the future, vendors and advocates are realizing that no one technology can service them all – the needs are just too diverse.

“Coopetition,” the word coined by the late Ray Noorda to exemplify the cooperation necessary between competitors, appears to be emerging in the identity space. Ping Identity has just released a white paper, “Internet-Scale Identity Systems: An Overview and Comparison,”, which illustrates, even for those not terribly familiar with the various identity systems, how this “coopetition” can take place. Download it, scan through it and pass it on to those who need to know but have so far resisted your efforts to tell them about the benefits of identity systems.

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