Future of Active Directory

Here's a snippet from  another article by John Fontana that will be of interest to people wondering how much wood Microsoft is ready to put behind the claims based model.  Stuart Kwan has played a central role in the evolution of Active Directory and the emerging identity products: 

Las Vegas – Microsoft Tuesday laid out a vision for Active Directory in which it will take on a major role in pushing out user identity data to applications and securing collaboration between users.

“We are moving from being a directory provider to an identity provider,” said Stuart Kwan, director of program management for identity and access at Microsoft, during the second day keynote at the annual NetPro Directory Experts Conference.

He said the benefit for corporate users would be a standard user access mechanism that would benefit application development, access management and allow companies to more easily spread their identity systems.

Kwan concluded that Active Directory was so close to fulfilling its original goals as a trusted directory service for corporate users that it was time to look ahead and envision the next set of challenges.

The new challenges, Kwan said, will put the directory in a key role in Microsoft’s Identity Metasystem, a model for distributed identity architecture. Coupled with an emerging technology called Security Token Service (STS), which handles the exchange of identity data, Microsoft envisions an architecture that pushes identity data out to applications that know how to interpret and act upon that data.

Today, applications typically pull user access data from the directory to determine a user’s access rights. The push model not only affords network efficiencies but more easily ties identity and application development, puts less stress on the directory, provides more flexibility in defining a user and their rights and gives the ability to federate identity with those outside the corporate network.

Kwan said the push mechanism would be similar to the way group membership data for a user is automatically included in today’s Kerberos authentication process.

In the future, identity data coming from the directory would be transformed by the STS gateway into a properly formatted “claim” or a set of claims about the user and his access rights.   (Continued here)

My one clarification is that neither Stuart nor I are talking about “Microsoft's” identity metasystem”.  We are trying to build an identity metasystem that stretches across vendors and platforms and products and countries.  We're trying to do our part within this metasystem. 

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.

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