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VeriSign to Provide Authentication Services for MS' .NET

Microsoft Corp. and VeriSign Inc. Tuesday reinforced their existing alliance, this time focusing on driving the acceptance of Microsoft's XML-based .NET offerings for delivering applications over the Internet.

Under the alliance, VeriSign will provide authentication and security technologies support for future .NET offerings, integrate .NET technologies -- like HailStorm, the HailStorm notification technology and Passport single sign-on and authentication system -- with its Internet-based trust services, and deploy Microsoft Windows 2000 Server for its Registrar-hosted Domain Names and Web sites.

Because .NET is intended to bring most applications and documents away from the desktop and onto the Internet, security and guaranteed availability for the offerings is essential. Indeed, in January, following the high-profile Denial of Service attacks that plagued the Microsoft network for nearly a week, some analysts said the .NET initiative was dead.

"It's destroyed," Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group, said at the time. "While they're running a big campaign talking about the reliability of MS products is not the time to have major outages at the site, particularly for sites as visible as Microsoft. (The outages) pretty much destroyed their advertising campaign, and any value they might have achieved from that campaign is pretty much gone.

"In fact, there's even a risk that the campaign will become an industry joke," Enderle said

Microsoft, for the most part, managed to dodge that prediction, and has steamed ahead with development of its .NET offerings. But likely the lesson of that week remains, and although VeriSign failed the company at least once -- in March it mistakenly issued two digital certificates in Microsoft's name to a person posing as a Microsoft employee -- VeriSign is still the most recognized and widely-accepted verification service on the Net.

"This alliance is great news for customers because it combines Microsoft's expertise and pioneering work in the new world of XML Web Services with the experience and leadership of VeriSign in delivering Internet-based trust services," said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft. "We are excited to be taking our relationship with VeriSign to a new level as well as being able to enhance the security of the services we deliver to users."

The integration of HailStorm will allow VeriSign's server digital certificates to verify applications that use HailStorm services and help the company manage relationships with the developers of those applications. The companies also plan to work together to integrate VeriSign's Personal Trust Agent technology with Microsoft's Passport authentication, single sign-on and secure messaging capabilities.

"VeriSign and Microsoft are working together to make the foundation for Web-based services including online transactions more secure," said Stratton Sclavos, president and chief executive officer of VeriSign. "Customers will see the benefits of our joint efforts through a set of new services that facilitate secure storage and access of consumer and business information, online collaboration and workflow management and e-commerce transaction processing."