Liberty Alliance Looks to Stamp Seal of Approval

With concerns about secure digital identity management looming over software
vendors, the Liberty Alliance Project is unveiling a new program
Wednesday that will help vendors provide proof that their products and services
hew to a common architecture standard for ID management.


Businesses face increasing demand to manage multiple products and systems
securely as the number of users accessing the Web multiplies. Standards
initiatives that promote cross-vendor interoperability can help users lower
costs and gain more use out of Web services.


Since the consortium, whose goal is to facilitate the adoption of identity
management over the Internet, unveiled its
identity architecture
last March, its members have been working on Web
service-oriented products that employ technologies based on the Liberty
specification.


The new certification program will help vendors, integrators and users make
sure that there products are interoperable in practical solutions — not
just in theory, said Simon Nicholson, chair of the Business Marketing Expert
Group at Liberty and manager of Industry Initiatives and Alliances at Sun
Microsystems.


The program also means products and services released under its guidance by
the vendors will come stamped with an official Liberty Alliance logo to tell
customers that the products have been validated. Vendors who declare
conformance must participate in a Liberty-sponsored interoperability event,
following guidelines to prove compatibility with other Liberty-enabled
products and compliance with Liberty.


This is designed to assuage customers’ concerns about the products
interoperability, said Roger Sullivan, president and CEO of Phaos
Technologies and chair of the Liberty Alliance certification sub-team. “This
will help drive overall buyer confidence in interoperability,” Sullivan told
internetnews.com, noting that it will also help predict product
functionality and provide additional reference points for vendors and users.


Identity management is one of the most important aspects with regard to
using credit cards over the Internet, which is why Michael Barrett, vice
president of Internet strategy at American Express, is president of the
Liberty Alliance Management Board. He noted that because some standards are
open to interpretation customers are not as quick to embrace them. This is
why validation by way of a partner program is necessary.


The alliance is made up of member companies Sun Microsystems, VeriSign, AOL
and Amercian Express, among others; Microsoft, IBM and others produce
similar specifications for Web services under the auspices of the Web
Services Interoperability (WS-I) consortium.


Under the Liberty Alliance’s architecture, identity consists of traits,
attributes and preferences. Traits are issued by governments, like driver’s
licenses and passports, and companies, like employee status and intranet
sign-in information, as well as biometric characteristics. Attributes and
preferences are specified as characteristics associated with an individual,
like a person’s airline seating preferences, music preferences, purchasing
history or medical history. The Liberty Alliance said attributes and
preferences can go beyond individuals to include phone, desktop or kiosks.


The Liberty Alliance, who announced the certification program at the Digital
ID World in Colorado, plans to reveal 10 companies who are developing
products and services with the Liberty spec at its interoperability event in
Madrid next month, from November 11 to 14.

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