Open-Source Projects Team On Identity Management Milestone

At the San Francisco event, the Eclipse Higgins project and Novell-backed Bandit project will demonstrate a reference integration with Microsoft's Windows CardSpace identity management system.

Identity system interoperability has developed slowly amid a standards fight among major vendors backing separate standards stacks. But the dust is beginning to settle, and progress is being made toward building functioning interoperability links.

The Higgins project focuses on consumer-level identity technology. Its goal is to build a multiplatform, multiprotocol framework that will provide consumers with more control and convenience in managing personal information and digital identities. Bandit, on the other hand, has an enterprise focus. Still, the two projects have closely collaborated through their existence. At the RSA Conference, they'll be showing off a reference implementation that passes identity information among multiple projects and products, including Novell's Access Manager, a Liberty Alliance-compatible single-sign-on manager.

"The reference application is an illustration of how multiple open-source projects can work together to bring products and identity systems together and integrate them in ways that couldn't be done before," said Dale Olds, a Novell distinguished engineer who serves as the Bandit project lead.

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Microsoft's CardSpace could become a significant player on the consumer side, since the digital identity manager is baked into the recently shipped Windows Vista operating system. Though Microsoft isn't formally working with the Higgins project, the two organizations have had technical discussions and are eager to make their systems compatible, according to Mary Ruddy, one of Higgins' leaders.

The integration technology to be demonstrated at the RSA Conference isn't yet part of the shipping version of Novell's Access Manager, but participants are optimistic that tangible identity management improvements are imminent.

"We're to the point where we're ready for people to start kicking the tires and seeing what they can build with these components," Olds said.