Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Commoditisation of Federated Identity software part 2

I blogged about this late last year and outlined a whole bunch of reasons why I thought this would happen sooner rather than later.

I'm bringing this up again because some of the Higgins and Bandit bunch are talking about a proof of concept they will be unveiling at the RSA Conference next week which shows:
how companies can integrate a non-Liberty Alliance identity system and a Liberty Alliance-based federated identity system provided by Novell Access Manager. In particular, the demonstration will have Novell Access Manager authenticate a user via Microsoft's CardSpace using information from an external identity system. In the demonstration, users will be able to access a sample media Wiki and blog using the technology.

The obvious Novell promotional reasons behind this aside, there was a quote from Paul Trevithick (Higgins project lead, amongst other things) which stated:

"One problem in realising the vision of an open-source identity layer is that tends to commoditise existing identity management products, creating a perverse incentive for companies that are in a position to make interoperable identities work."

He goes on to say:

"That may be the reason you hear about interoperability but still haven't seen it. Companies like Oracle and IBM and even Novell have no incentive to do it."

This brings up something I didn't mention previously - the position this puts the big vendors like IBM, Novell, Oracle, Sun etc in. They are all evangelising the need for open standards and interoperability, which is where we all want things to end up. Problem is, the guys holding all the $$$ within the vendors are then put in an interesting these initiatives at the cost of software sales. Because in doing so, they're effectively cannibalising their own market. This is especially prevalent in the Federated Identity space because the whole concept of Federation is built upon open standards.

Like I said before, I don't think they can stop the freight train and the Federated software products look to be next in line for commoditisation.

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