Update: Group backs new identity manager tool
The project competes with Microsoft's InfoCard, which will be part of Vista
IDG News Service - IBM and Novell Inc. announced their support today for an open-source project aiming to give users more control over how information such as passwords and financial details is shared across multiple Web sites.
The two companies, along with Parity Communications Inc., will contribute code to Project Higgins, a concept developed by Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The open-source project is managed by the Eclipse Foundation.
The future application is envisioned to allow users the simplicity, for example, of changing their address across multiple Web accounts. IBM said users would control their own information rather than external organizations, setting rules for how much personal information businesses such as an insurance company or bank would see.
The Higgins code will support Linux, Windows and other operating systems, IBM said. IBM said it will incorporate Higgins into its Tivoli management software with support from other software vendors.
On the same front, Microsoft Corp. is marshaling support for InfoCard, its version of a secure identity manager that is scheduled to ship with its next-generation operating system, Windows Vista, this fall. InfoCard is a second such effort by Microsoft, which failed to see wide implementation if its Passport authentication program.
But the task of identity management is daunting because of regulatory requirements of different governments, said proponents of the Higgins project.
"We don't believe that one single company, vendor or expert can solve this," said Dan Bailey, an IT safety and security architect at IBM.
The open-source community will be able to use the Higgins code to develop specific clients that implement a service-oriented architecture and Web services approach to identity management, Bailey said.
Supporters of Higgins hope that Web site developers will realize the value that a structured identity application brings users and make their sites compatible with Higgins' application programming interfaces.
Bailey said the Higgins code should be released by the end of this year, and IBM will incorporate the code into its Tivoli Access Manager and Tivoli Identity Manager software.
Project Higgins is a welcome initiative, but the announcement seems to make light work of the vast procedural and business issues involved with implementation, said Graham Titterington, an analyst at Ovum Ltd.
"My impression of the tone of it is there is an awful lot of bridges you've got to cross and a whole lot of work to be done," Titterington said.
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