Saturday, December 17, 2005


Federated Identity and Community Formation

I had a conversation last week with Phil Becker regarding putting together a panel for an upcoming conference Digital ID World and landed on a couple of thoughts around the practice of community formation. Figured I would use the opportunity to get feedback from the blogosphere to see if my idea for a session has merit...

We all understand that the idea of community is important, but we just don't have time to get involved in yet another meeting. If you view the development of a community like a project this will always be a problem. The project mindset which tends to be the default mandates the need for clear objectives, a defined time-line and a set of tasks based on the notion of best practices (we all should know that no such thing exists)

The Enterprise architecture view ideally has a different mindset than the project mindset and the notion of communities external to the enterprise breaking insular thinking. In fact, it is mandatory that this happen in order to get federated identity correct on the first shot. The biggest problem is that this is typically done through a variety of channels. For example, an enterprise can join a variety of consortiums ranging from the Liberty Alliance to the Object Management Group or even pursue local interests such as CT Object Oriented Users Group. The main problem is that community formation for an enterprise shouldn't really depend on making the case to open one's wallet.

I would say that the same notion of community formation and traditional insular thinking of large enterprises also prevent it from truly realizing benefits offered by the open source community but that will be a topic of a future blog entry. The marketplace and the conference attendees need to hear a story other than thinly veiled sales presentations. They need to hear the perspectives of other enterprises. Until the voice of the enterprise is heard in an unmoderated manner, federated identity will never emerge in any meaningful way.

In a previous blog entry, I talked about the notion of community formation and how it occurs within a particular industry vertical. Great examples are the folks that pulled off Securities.Hub. So far the discussion in federations has been centered around vendors telling stories about interoperability and other remotely interesting technical topics. Not a single industry analyst though has figured out there is an opportunity to research best practices and create reports around them. I wonder if Jamie Lewis of the Burton Group to get one of his analysts on it.

Anyway, one of the things that I am thinking about is a panel that is primarily made up of end-users (hint: no vendors allowed) from Fortune 500 enterprises. Was thinking though that I will need to make two or maybe three exceptions to the no vendors rule. First, no panel would be complete without including Kim Cameron of Microsoft. Also will be enlisting the services of Jeff Margolies of Accenture who can provide a somewhat insider's view to the thinking inside corporate America. Would love to line up someone from Merrill Lynch and Boeing but haven't yet figured out who to contact.

Was thinking about asking Jon Udell if he would also serve as a member of the panel. . Have to figure out which industry analyst covers federated identity the deepest and invite him/her but not sure who this would be? If you happen to have thoughts on how I can make this session strong, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment. Thanks in advance.

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