Single Sign-on Deployers Weigh Concordia’s Work

A group of purveyors of competing identity metasystems met this week to hear large customers discuss their interests in promoting interoperability among their systems.

The good news was that customers spoke out about how essential it is that those systems, including Microsoft’s CardSpace, Liberty Alliance, and OpenID, interoperate. But it may take some time before that goal is accomplished.

Still, the event’s organizers are at least cautiously optimistic that initial steps have been taken in the right direction.

“[The meeting] exactly met my expectations,” Roger Sullivan, president of Liberty Alliance’s management board and one of the meeting’s organizers, told The group, which calls itself the Concordia Project, met before the beginning of the Burton Group’s Catalyst IT leadership conference being held this week in San Francisco.

The Concordia Project, which is named after the ancient Roman goddess of peace and harmony, aims to bring competing ID metasystems purveyors together in order to interoperate for the benefit of customers. An ID metasystem provides a single signon  designed to eliminate the requirement of logging in separately to access multiple applications or resources. Tuesday’s meeting was the group’s first public activity.

Representatives of five very large customers, including GM, Boeing, AOL, the U.S. General Services Administration, and the government of the Canadian province of British Columbia, held forth at the event. They were there to each present “use cases” of how they are using or are planning to use identity systems in their organizations.

Among the vendor attendees listening to the presentations as well as seated on a panel discussion towards the end of the day were representatives from Intel , Microsoft  and VeriSign . (A Microsoft spokesperson, however, wanted to make clear that the Microsoft representative was not attending as a member of the Concordia Project per se.)

But it may well take longer for the various purveyors of identity metasystems to work out useable interoperability strategies and technologies to suit customers’ needs. While the point of Tuesday’s meeting was to hear from customers, no one announced any immediate plans to follow through with solutions, although there did seem to be some consensus among purveyors.

“There was general nodding of heads [but] there were no commitments made by anyone at the table,” Conor Cahill, principal engineer at Intel, told

“Microsoft is committed in working with industry partners to provide users and customers with extended interoperable benefits that will broaden the reach of the Identity Metasystem,” said Thom Robbins, director .NET platform product management at Microsoft, in a statement emailed to “One of the key elements to developing a metasystem is providing users with interoperable tools that can help easily access online services more securely.”

So despite an apparently auspicious beginning, it may turn out that the old cliché is true: The mills of the gods grind slowly, but exceedingly fine.

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