SAP eyes Sun's security group

SAP is leaning towards the Sun Microsystems-led Liberty Alliance for online authentication services

SAP is leaning towards the Sun Microsystems-led Liberty Alliance for online authentication services

Both the Liberty Alliance and Microsoft's Passport service aim to provide online authentication services, which Sachar Paulus, SAP's director of product management for security, described as "federated identities".

Through the federated identities, online customers will have a mechanism for forwarding trusted identity information.

SAP has not officially decided to opt for either the Liberty Alliance or Passport. However, Paulus said companies involved in business-to-business exchanges would not want to yield control of corporate information assets to a third party, as would be required under the Microsoft plan.

Sun, on the other hand, takes a less centralised approach, Paulus said. Though, he added, SAP would have to support Microsoft's efforts in some way, because of Microsoft's strength in the front-end application market.

Microsoft has promised to consider handing over management of Passport to a third party group made up of its business rivals and corporate partners, and that it would open Passport up to work with competing services.

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New Liberty Alliance president: Open specs work George Goodman, the director of Intel's Visualization and Trust Lab, was recently elected the new president of the Liberty Alliance Project's management board. The Liberty Alliance Project is an organization working to create open standards and business guidelines for federated identity management and Web services. The alliance has recently added some big names to its list of members -- IBM, Intel and Oracle signed up last year -- and has progressed significantly on many fronts since its founding in 2001. In this interview, Goodman looks at some of the alliance's milestones, including work done on the Identity Federation Framework (ID-FF), which has been broadly used in real world implementations. He looks at Liberty's "conformance approach," which allows adopting organizations to determine a product's compliance with the Liberty specs, and also discusses the integration of the ID-FF into the much broader SAML (Security Assertion Markup Language) 2.0 release, coming out in early 2005.

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