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Social Security: The Next Wave in Identity Management

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By Shawn Dickerson

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Posted: 6 Oct 2004
 

Social Security - by Shawn Dickerson
The Next Wave in Identity Management

Novell Connection Magazine - Sep/Oct 2004

With Odyssey, Novell maintains its leading-edge position in the latest wave of identity management. Learn all about what Odyssey is and how it works in this Novell Connection Magazine article by Shawn Dickerson.

Here's an excerpt:

Not to sound overly philosophical, but technology is like the ocean. It comes in waves. Sure, vendors can paint a beautiful and inspiring picture of the sunrise on the horizon, but actually achieving that vision generally happens one wave at a time; and identity management is no exception.

In the mid- to late-90s, before identity management became a mainstream IT topic, the conversation revolved mostly around directories and the concept of storing identity information for use throughout the network. The pre-directory days were "machine centric," in that a network login was attached to a specific machine, and access rights varied from server to server. With the advent of directories from vendors like Banyan, Netscape and Novell, companies got their first taste of a "user-centric" world, where network and application access were based on a user's identity.

Novell is on the leading edge of developing products that make it possible to federate identity information.

The next wave in identity management targeted Web access control, and gave rise to products like Netegrity Siteminder and Novell iChain. These products tapped the identity information stored in directories to control access and personalize content for Web sites and Web applications. But of course the proliferation of Web access management solutions and a host of other identity-based applications left many companies with dozens of non-integrated user identity stores that had to be managed and updated manually and individually. That administrative nightmare was the catalyst behind the third wave of identity management and the rapid adoption of meta-directory and provisioning products. Niche vendors such as Business Layers and Access360, and well-established players like Sun and Novell, gave companies a means to integrate different identity stores and automate the creation of user accounts across applications...and that's the point where many companies are today.

So what's the next wave in identity management? In a word: federation. Not the "explore strange new worlds" kind of federation, but rather securely sharing identity information outside the firewall with business partners. And just as it has been in many other facets of identity management, Novell is on the leading edge in developing products that make it possible to federate identity information. In November, Novell will begin beta testing a technology code-named Odyssey, which will make it very easy to federate identity information between business partners, as well as internal systems, without compromising a user's privacy.

Of course, the next question is, Why? While the concept of federation may sound intriguing, is it really something that can make life easier for a network administrator?or just more vendor hype?

Perhaps the best way to answer that question is to put Odyssey and federation in the context of the work you're already doing. Essentially, the product is going to extend the benefits that organizations have already realized from Novell Nsure solutions to trusted business partners. Identity management capabilities that have traditionally only been available (or at the least, viable) within the enterprise, can now be extended to encompass trusted services outside the firewall. For example, with Odyssey, you'll be able to provide single sign-on, advanced authentication, user account provisioning, identity integration and policy-based access control?only this time, those features will not just affect the systems you directly control, but also the Web sites, applications and services of trusted business partners. With those benefits in mind, let's take a closer look at what Odyssey is and how it works.

What is Odyssey?

Read the rest of the article here


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