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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

The Liberty Alliance Project is considering Java-style measures to avoid proprietary implementation by vendors of its specifications for single sign-in to web services,

Gavin Clarke writes

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Sun Microsystems Inc-backed Liberty told ComputerWire that members are considering a set of test suites and reference implementations to ensure its specifications for federated network identity conform to original documents once adopted by vendors.

Test suites and reference implementations are an established process used by the Java Community Process (JCP) to test compatibility of vendors' Java implementations.

However, Liberty members are stopping short of a Java-style cup of steaming coffee logo that could be slapped on conformant products and services.

Michael Barrett, acting president of the Liberty Alliance management board and vice president of Internet strategy for American Express Corp, told ComputerWire a logo was considered "too heavyweight".

"There was a feeling [by members] they didn't want the alliance to have a strong brand of its own," he said.

It is believed more brand-conscious members of Liberty were unwilling to have their own identity cluttered by another logo. Conflicts over branding along with control of customer data in Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp's separate .NET My Services forced the company to re-think its own proposed offerings.

Barrett spoke to ComputerWire as Santa Clara, California-based Sun prepared to release what is believed to be the industry's first Liberty-based products. The company is preparing versions of its Identity Server and Directory Server for later this year that support version 1.0 of the Liberty specifications, published in July.

No date is set for the test suite and reference implementations, but Barrett said discussions have taken place. These discussions have tackled areas such as how vendors' submit products for testing under non-disclosure agreement.

"We are absolutely looking at static conformance requirements and interoperability testing," Barrett said.

Testing and a reference implementation would be useful in an e-business scenario and large organizations, such as corporates and governments running intranet and internt sites based on different identity systems.

Governments, especially, buy IT on a project-by-project basis, meaning different vendors' products could be used - a fact that makes interoperability essential.

Sun's director of Liberty Alliance technology Bill Smith said: "This will make it easier for large organizations, like governments, to adopt. They have a requirement for passing a level of conformance. People have all these different ID systems, that they are not going to replace overnight."

© ComputerWire

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