Sun takes Liberty with Identity Server 6.0

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ComputerWire logo Sun Microsystems Inc is today expected to announce what is believed to be the industry's first identity sever based on Liberty Alliance Project specifications for federated network identity.

Santa Clara, California-based Sun has begun shipping version 6.0 of its Identity Server, which uses version 1.0 of the Liberty specification, announced last July.

It's the first step in Sun's product support for Liberty's specifications. Sun told ComputerWire it would also add support for version 1.1 of Liberty's specifications, currently in draft, with a patch release for its server once the specification is finalized.

The company believes this latest version of its identity server will drive enterprise-wide secure, single sign-in to applications and web services with its support for Liberty.

Version 1.0 of Liberty enables users to link accounts held by different service providers and provides global log-out, all without the exchange of a user's personal information. Liberty uses Security Assertion Mark-up Language (SAML) to identify a user.

Both Liberty and SAML offer the chance of large-scale up-take of federated identity simply because of the groundswell of support both have attracted. Liberty's backers include major IT vendors and customers while SAML was developed as a standard via the Organization for the Advancement for Structured Information Standards (OASIS).

Identity Server 6.0 works with versions of IBM's WebSphere and BEA Systems Inc's WebLogic application servers in addition to versions of Sun's own ONE Application Server. Microsoft Corp's Internet Information Services is supported along with PeopleSoft, Apache Web Server and Domino. Platforms supported are Solaris 8, 9 and x86, Red Hat 7.2 (6.1 only) and Windows 2000.

Despite this support, though, Sun hopes customers will adopt its identity server along with the company's other, related server products such as directory server, meta-directory and certificate servers.

John Barco, senior product marketing manager for Sun ONE, said customers want a single-vendor approach. "There's been a large hole in many businesses around a cohesive identity management strategy. ID, management and certificate server have been designed to work together."

Sun plans to integrate Identity Server with its other server products. The first step in this strategy has seen integration with the Sun ONE Portal, but other candidates include Sun's application server, messaging server, web server and Solaris operating system.

Barco said Sun will also integrate Identity Server with "other products in the pipeline" but did not provide details of what these products might be.

Liberty aside, Identity Server 6.0 includes simplified development and deployment and centralized auditing. The server uses Java Authentication and Authorization Service (JAAS) framework, based on JAAS 1.0, to define user access polices. Deployment is via a server-based agent and centralized auditing helps organizations track who is trying to access a web site or service.

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