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IBM gives in to call for Liberty services for all

Joins the 'other' alliance

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IBM has given in to industry and customer pressure and joined the Liberty Alliance.

Big Blue issued a note to analysts on Wednesday, notifying them of its change of heart. The behemoth, working on its own web services specs, swallowed some pride and joined a group backed most prominently by rival Sun Microsystems and other competitors such as Oracle. IBM vowed to stay true to its own WS-Federation technology backed by Microsoft and BEA.

"Customers are looking for identity management software that is flexible, supporting both WS-* and Liberty," IBM said in the note to analysts. "To that end, IBM plans to support a broad range of federated identity specifications across its Tivoli identity management product line."

IBM had already made a large Liberty concession in July when it won a deal to create a massive single-sign-on network for France Telecom's Orange cellular network. This agreement played well into Liberty's strengths of letting users tap into services from a wide variety of vendors without needing to set up separate accounts for each service. In the case of France Telecom, the idea was to have partners build instant messaging, game, banking and e-mail applications for some 50m customers.

In addition, IBM tuned its Tivoli Access Manager software to support Liberty standards back in June.

Such relatively recent support is in stark contrast to IBM's earlier objections to Liberty. Sun had once offered by IBM and Microsoft founder status in the Liberty Alliance but both vendors declined, opting to go their own directions instead.

Liberty has a huge collection of members, including HP, Intel AOL, Fidelity, Novell, NTT DoCoMo, Sony and the list goes on and on.

IBM has now received board member status with the Liberty Alliance. ®

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