I was so snowed under trying to work against time for the OpenID annoucement at RSA that I missed blogging another imporant milestone that has been reached by the identity community. This report on progress in the Higgins and Bandit side of the house is great news for everyone:
The Bandit and Eclipse Higgins Projects today announced the achievement of a key milestone in the development of open source identity services. Based on working code from the two projects and the larger community of open source developers, the teams have created a reference application that showcases open source identity services that are interoperable with Microsoftâ€™s Windows* CardSpace* identity management system and enable Liberty Alliance-based identity federation via Novell® Access Manager. This reference application is a first-of-its-kind open source identity system that features interoperability with leading platforms and protocols. This ground-breaking work will be demonstrated at the upcoming RSA Conference in San Francisco.
“There are two basic requirements for translating the potential of recent identity infrastructure developments into real-world benefits for users: interoperability and a consistent means of developing identity-aware applications,” said Jamie Lewis, CEO and research chair of Burton Group. “First, vendors must deliver on their promise to enable interoperability between different identity systems serving different needs. Second, developers need a consistent means of creating applications that leverage identity while masking many of the underlying differences in those systems from the programmer. The Bandit and Eclipse Higgins interoperability demonstration shows progress on the path toward these goals. And the fact that they are open source software projects increases the potential that the identity infrastructure will emerge as a common, open system for the Internet.”
The Bandit and Higgins projects are developing open source identity services to help individuals and organizations by providing a consistent approach to managing digital identity information regardless of the underlying technology. This reference application leverages the information card metaphor that allows an individual to use different digital identity â€˜I-Cardsâ€™ to gain access to online sites and services. This is the metaphor used in the Windowâ€™s CardSpace identity management system that ships with the Vista* operating system.
â€œWindows CardSpace is an implementation of Microsoftâ€™s vision of an identity metasystem, which we have promoted as a model for identity interoperability,â€ said Kim Cameron, architect for identity and access at Microsoft. â€œItâ€™s rewarding to see the Bandit and Higgins projects, as well as the larger open source community, embracing this concept and delivering on the promise of identity interoperability.â€
The open source technology developed by Bandit and Higgins enables initial integration between a non-Liberty Alliance identity system and a Liberty Alliance-based federated identity system provided by Novell Access Manager. Specifically, these technologies enable Novell Access Manager to authenticate a user via a Microsoft infocard (CardSpace) and consume identity information from an external identity system. It will further show that identity information from Novell Access Manager can be used within an infocard system. This is a significant step forward in the integration of separate identity systems to deliver a seamless experience for the user as demonstrated by the reference application.
â€œThe Liberty Alliance project fully supports the development of open source identity services that advance the deployment of Liberty-enabled federation and Web Services as part of the broader Internet identity layer,â€ said Brett McDowell, executive director of the Liberty Alliance. â€œThe open source communityâ€™s embrace of Liberty Alliance protocols is validation of the benefits this technology provides, and we salute the Bandit and Higgins teams for their role in making the technology more broadly accessible.â€
Higgins is an open source software project that is developing an extensible, platform-independent, identity protocol-independent software framework to support existing and new applications that give users more convenience, privacy and control over their identity information. The reference application leverages several parts of Higgins including an identity abstraction layer called the Identity Attribute Service (IdAS). To support a dynamic environment where sources of identity information may change, it is necessary to provide a common means to access identity and attribute information from across multiple identity repositories. The IdAS virtualizes identity sources and provides a unified view of identity information. Different identity stores or identity management systems can connect to the IdAS via â€œcontext providersâ€ and thus provide interoperability among multiple systems.
â€œMany groups have been working towards the goals of Internet identity interoperability,â€ said Paul Trevithick, technology lead for the Higgins project. â€œThis milestone represents a major step in having multiple open source projects work together to support multi-protocol interoperability.â€
The Bandit project, sponsored by Novell, is focused on delivering a consistent approach to enterprise identity management challenges, including secure access and compliance reporting. The Bandit teamâ€™s contributions to the reference application include the development of multiple â€œcontext providersâ€ that plug into the Higgins Identity Attribute Service (IdAS) abstraction layer to provide access to identity information across disparate identity stores. It also showcases the role engine and audit reporting capabilities in development by the Bandit community.
â€œThe development of this reference application would not have been possible without the collaboration and contribution of the wider Internet identity community,â€ said Dale Olds, Bandit project lead and distinguished engineer for Novell. â€œThis is the first of many milestones we are working towards as both the Bandit and Higgins communities strive to enable interoperable, open source identity services.â€
So congratulations to Bandit, Higgins and everyone else who made this happen – this is great stuff, and the identity big bang is one step closer for it.