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Bandit to attack open source identity management

Novell plans another ambush

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A number of news sites have reported that Novell will soon be announcing its latest foray into open source identity management: the Bandit project (a somewhat surprising choice of name given the focus on security, privacy and so forth).

Novell is sponsoring the project and contributing the engineering effort. While it is actively seeking external input, Novell "in consultation with the Bandit community, sets the project engineering goals and retains ultimate responsibility for the project".

The objectives of the project are to: enable application access to identity stores; support multiple and pluggable authentication methods and user-managed authentication credentials; provide a simple API for role-based access control; and simplify auditing and reporting for compliance based on open standards and specifications.

To meet these objectives, Bandit has identified a number of components:

  • Common Authentication Services Adapter (CASA) - for the storage of credentials and other authentication data by users and applications
  • Common Identity - a framework for abstracting different identity data stores based on the Java Naming and Directory Interface (JNDI), which provides identity data mapping and transformation, caching, a policy engine, and a variety of connectors for different identity data stores, including LDAP, SQL, XML
  • Compliance Records Architecture - provides an API for auditing based on name/value pairs and a taxonomy for the hierarchical classification of audit records
  • Role Engine Architecture - for role-based access control and management of roles, relationships, membership and dynamic separation of duties.

Bandit is certainly an ambitious undertaking, as it sets out to address some of the more challenging, higher-level aspects of identity management such as role-based access control and compliance. Novell certainly has significant identity management expertise to contribute and it will be interesting to see how much of the intellectual property in its identity management solutions will migrate to the Bandit deliverables.

There is a degree of overlap with the Higgins project, which Novell joined at the end of February, particularly in the area of Common Identity.

Although there is no integration between the two open source initiatives at present, the Bandit team envisages the creation of a Higgins context provider (the means by which the Higgins Framework plugs into different identity repositories, protocols etc to provide application developers, via the Eclipse framework, with a common API to build on different identity management solutions) based on the Common Identity component.

This is not the first open source identity management initiative, but the involvement of identity management heavyweight Novell is significant. The fact that the project is focusing on higher-level identity management issues gives it added significance.

It will be interesting to see which, if any, of the other major identity management players, particularly CA, IBM, Oracle and Sun, all of whom are active in the open source community, choose to participate.

Copyright © 2006 Macehiter Ward-Dutton

This article was originally published at IT-Analysis.com.

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