Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Round Two: Federated Identity

Pat Patterson of Sun responded to one of my prior blog entries but missed several key points. Figured I would attempt round two.

I am firm in my belief that the vast majority of the community is really missing the point. In the example of Wells Fargo and them federating with lots of small mortgage brokers really isn't about whose policies they adhere to but rather the value proposition of federating at large.

For example, if Wells Fargo were to form a federation that includes Bank of America, CitiGroup and Sovereign Bank, it would be a great opportunity to sell lots of enterprise software, tons of case studies to be created by industry analysts, etc. But the simple fact is that this type of federation will not generate any additional revenue for any of its participants.

Now, consider the example I proposed where Wells Fargo were to federate with individual mortgage brokers. These same brokers may do business with other other banks. The key thing to consider is that by thinking about federating with the little guys the value of federation makes more sense. In this particular scenario, it is these little guys that bring them revenue as it makes it easier to do business with them while the federation amongst big guys costs them money.

The key problem space is that most folks talking about federated identity are only organized around selling to large enterprises. Is there anyone that could provide federation capabilities to small shops where an IT person doesn't even exist? Building it into software they already have is more useful than creating new products around the federation space. Hence my belief that WS-Federation may be a good thing.

The whole discussion around what is a specification vs. standard is academic. What matters is what works, what scales and what enables people and small businesses who bring revenue to large enterprises to be able to do this easier...

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