Here is the latest from Eric Norlin, Editor of Digital ID World and industry veteran:
The big (as in could not miss it) news yesterday was the launch of the Higgins project — an open source instantiation of the WS-Trust framework within the Eclipse foundation. Several tech news articles got the take *way* wrong – pitching it as open source vs. microsoft story. In reality, that's not what it is at all.
In brief, the Higgins project (which is apparently named for some “long-tailed” tasmanian mouse, and NOT the guy from “Magnum P.I.” — and, really, wouldn't it be much more interesting if it was named after the guy from Magnum P.I.?) means the following:
1. This is, net-net, a *win* for Kim Cameron's Identity Metasystem. In the past few weeks, Kim has had Verisign announce support, and now an open source project building out a WS-Trust framework for application developers. So, make no mistake about it, Higgins equals more momentum for the Metasystem.
2. However, the move by IBM and Novell *appears* to be a move designed to pressure Microsoft and ensure that their instantiation of the metasystem (InfoCards) remains “open.”
3. That move is being done in response to one very big (and obvious) realization: InfoCards is going to ship in Vista (probably early) and it is going to be a game-changer in the user-centric identity space.
4. But more importantly, it may *also* be a game changer in the enterprise space, as well. There is a tremendous amount of enterprise interest in using InfoCards as a central metaphor for enterprise identity management.
5. So think about this for a second: InfoCards on a huge number of desktops, enterprises upgrading to Vista for its security features (like BitLocker), and InfoCards needs to have an identity credential issued. Where might that be issued from? Active Directory. It is no mistake that (as John Fontana observed), Active Directory is now the hub off of which all of Microsoft's enterprise identity management offerings hang.
6. ergo InfoCards will drive even more adoption of what is quickly becoming the Active Directory juggernaut.
7. Therefore, if I'm a company selling products that are competitive to Active Directory (say, like, for instance IBM or Novell), and I believe that the identity metasystem has gained enough critical mass, then it is absolutely in my best interest to push forward an open source project for the metasystem. Not doing so is to hand over my market to Active Directory.
8. Higgins is good for the community at large (the more Identity Metasystem things we get going the better), and necessary for the vendors involved.
Stay tuned, Phil will have much more to say about this in his newsletter this week.
I have no idea what peoples’ motivations might be. It all reminds me of the moments when my kids (who are now out of beta) have told me all about their friends” motivations and the knots they are experiencing in their relationships with them. When they have asked for advice, the one thing I've told them is to forget about thinking they understand peoples’ motivations, and just act so they have the best possible relationship at each moment in time… Maybe I'm hopelessly naive.
This said, I think (and here I join the speculation movement) there might be truth in the premise that once InfoCard started to gain steam, Microsoft's Active Directory support might have helped spur others to get into the middle of the game. And this is a good thing.
On the other hand, I know and work with all the players and they are people with whom I share a very deep common identity vision. They, like me, have to convince their colleagues to do some fairly counter-intuitive things to get this identity vision realized. So maybe, in this sense, the prospect of Active Directory support is something which actually helps them in their drive to explain all the dynamics in play.
Perhaps the most important thing I can say is that neither IBM nor Novell, nor Sun or anyone else, is really my competitor in this space. The competition comes from the vast patchwork of one-off and ad-hoc identity contraptions that the whole industry has been forced to build because the architecture of the Internet is missing the identity layer, leaving our virtual world in grave danger. So far, the one-off contraptions have about 99% of the market. So there's lots of space for all of us who want to change all that.