Liberty Alliance plans technology debut

The companies behind the Liberty Alliance Project, which is developing a technology to link various single sign-on authentication...

The companies behind the Liberty Alliance Project, which is developing a technology to link various single sign-on authentication systems using a standard specification, is set to unveil its first technology standards next week.

Eric Dean, chairman of the Liberty Alliance Project and chief information officer of United Airlines, will provide details about the technology at a US conference on 15 July.

The Alliance was formed in September 2001 to create a standard specification that would enable users to travel the Internet and access applications over networks using a single identity, which would be supported by Web sites and software vendors.

The idea of a standard technology for linking various authentication systems has received an enthusiastic response from hardware, software and Internet companies, said David Smith, senior analyst with research group Gartner.

"Even before it has shipped anything the Liberty Alliance has had a huge impact on the industry as far as making sure the Web services world has an open, interoperable service for authentication," Smith said.

It may also provide a welcome alternative to Microsoft's Passport authentication service.

Microsoft has yet to say whether Passport will support the Liberty Alliance standard. Company executives said they were waiting for the specification to be developed before reaching a decision.

More than 40 companies have pledged to support the Liberty Alliance specification when it becomes available, including AOL Time Warner, American Express, General Motors, Nokia, Cisco Systems and eBay. Once the Liberty Alliance specification is released, many of those companies are expected to begin releasing products and services that implement the specification.

Sun Microsystems, a founding member of Liberty Alliance Project, has said it will quickly add support for the specification to its software line, including its Sun ONE (Open Net Environment) Directory Server.

The company expects to announce its support within a week of the release of the Liberty Alliance specification, a Sun spokeswoman said.

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