Liberty Alliance gets nod from Novell

Novell will this week throw its weight behind the Liberty Alliance Project, an initiative aimed at creating an open identity...

Novell will this week throw its weight behind the Liberty Alliance Project, an initiative aimed at creating an open identity standard for authenticating users on the Internet.

It will join other industry leaders including Sun, General Motors, Nokia, United Airlines, AOL Time Warner and American Express, in hammering out the business rules and technology components needed for an alternative to Microsoft's Passport network identity model.

Passport has been criticised by those who fear the prospect of network identity falling under the control of a single vendor.

Novell intends to lend its experience in identity management and single sign-on, including its eDirectory technology, to the policy, marketing, and technology committees of the Liberty Alliance.

"Novell brings its expertise in identity management from the enterprise and e-business space to the table," said Justin Taylor, chief strategist for directory services at the company.

The company also plans to share lessons learned from an earlier experiment with online identity management called digitalme. The eDirectory-based user authentication service was launched in October 1999, designed to give online users access to single sign-on while maintaining control over personal information.

The Liberty Alliance has gathered significant momentum recently and Microsoft has signalled that it may join the Liberty effort or link its Passport technology to the Liberty effort.

Marge Breya, Sun's representative on the Liberty Alliance said: "No single entity should have [control] of identity and preference information. The goal of [the Liberty Alliance] is to allow information to stay as it is today: with entities you trust," she said.

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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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