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Three proposed resolutions

Jan 04, 20063 mins
Access ControlData Center

* Convergence, convergence and convergence

It’s the time for good intentions and New Year’s resolutions. According to one holiday Web site, making resolutions, “dates back to the early Babylonians. Popular modern resolutions might include the promise to lose weight or quit smoking. The early Babylonian’s most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.”

A lot of people in the identity business acquired equipment this past year, but it wasn’t borrowed. Right now, though, it’s time to look ahead to 2006 and to the resolutions those of us with an interest in identity should make. I’d like to offer three possibilities, but there is a similarity among them – so much so that we could call the three convergence, convergence and convergence.

First, there’s the convergence I suggested last year, the convergence of standards. I said then that we should continue to create industry standards where needed while consolidating those that are competing (such as WS-Federation and Liberty Alliance), and that is just as important today – more so, I think, for the Liberty Alliance which is about to face the full force of the IBM/Microsoft Web Services Initiative (WS-*). IBM, as a member of both groups, really needs to step forward and show leadership here.

Secondly, there’s the “convergence” of vendors. 2005 was the year of mergers and acquisitions, and that will probably continue throughout 2006. Vendors with niche products will find the pressure is on to allow themselves to be acquired by the major players, which need to be able to present as full and complete an identity management offering as possible. Those who hesitate this year may find themselves irrelevant next year.

The third convergence is one of architecture. 2005 saw a resurgence in the area of personal identity, lead by the yearlong discussion surrounding the Seven Laws of Identity put forward by Microsoft’s Kim Cameron. Small start-ups like LID, OpenID, Passel and others, along with bigger players such as Sxip, have one view of how identity should be addressed, while enterprise players such as Sun, IBM, CA, HP, Novell and more have a somewhat different view. Microsoft is somewhere in between, but in proposing the Identity Metasystem it has taken the lead in tying together these two seemingly disparate worlds of identity. This is another train that people need to get on. The Microsoft metasystem might not be the answer, but it is a pointer in the right direction.

These three convergences, if handled properly, could lead to 2006 being even a better year for the identity industry and all who profit from it – vendors, consultants, evangelists and users. Happy New Year!