Convergence on the mind for identity management vendors in 2006

* Convergence happenings in 2006

I probably should have posted my predictions for the new year in one of last week’s issues, but since there was only one issue last week, I deferred. This also gives me the opportunity to look at everyone else’s predictions before launching my own.

First, though, let’s look at what I had to say a year ago about what 2007 would bring. The three issues I noted were convergence, convergence and convergence.

I talked about the convergence of architecture, citing the “user-centric” (LID, OpenID, Passel, Sxip, et al) community on one side, the “enterprise-centric” (Sun, IBM, CA, HP, Novell, Liberty Alliance, etc.) bunch on the other, and Microsoft somewhere in between.

The year has seen a lot of coalescence of the user-centric community around the OpenID specification. Not only have Sxip and the i-names folks signed on, but the Liberty Alliance and Microsoft are paying close attention. This is a fast developing bandwagon and anyone who wants to influence the final product needs to get on board. The technology companies that are heaviest into enterprise-centric identity (Sun, IBM, Novell, etc.) are also contributing to the open source-based OpenID specification – maybe it’s time for the provisioning/enterprise single sign-on/compliance sector to get involved also.

I also mentioned the “convergence of vendors” last year, and EMC’s announcement in June of its acquisition of RSA was just the biggest bang on that front, as there were also lots of smaller acquisitions. Those included GeoTrust’s purchase of TrustCenter, Visage’s merger with Identix, VeriSign’s acquisition of GeoTrust, Entrust’s purchase of Business Signatures, RSA’s acquisition of Passmark, and SAP’s purchase of Virsa. It wasn’t, perhaps, as big a year for acquisitions as 2005 but the trend did continue.

Finally, I mentioned the convergence of standards. I was referring to the work of aligning the WS-* specifications with SAML and the Liberty Alliance specs. That convergence hasn’t been completed – and it may never be. But – as the work on the OpenID specification shows – convergence can also mean interoperability. There’s a definite movement to bring SAML into the OpenID specification, not only to provide a tie to the Liberty Alliance but also to enable secure transfer of attributes and values beyond simple authentication tokens. Microsoft’s CardSpace – while based solidly on WS-* specs – shows signs of being amenable to interacting with both the OpenID camp as well as the Liberty Alliance. We’ll call this “convergence” a work in progress.

Next issue I will look at what others are predicting for the coming year. Hurry back!

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.