Auto-federation and the lighter side of federated identity

Now who says that federated identity can't be entertaining as well. On January 24th, Sun's Daniel Raskin, who is involved in Sun's OpenSSO project, poked a bit of fun at competitor Ping Identity by putting a short videoclip up on his blog which would help "explaining the differences" between Sun and Ping. It didn't take long for Ping's crew to respond in kind, promising an "epic battle" in their own video posted on Ping's blog.

What I quite interesting about these little jabs carried out in good humour were the comments about "federation auto-connect" that Ping announced a few weeks ago in the latest version of PingFederate. The idea of this feature is to make federating between different entities easier by automating the exchange of meta-data. At Symlabs, the company I worked for previously, my then-colleague Sampo Kellomaki had developed the same feature about a year earlier, and had even mentioned it in his presentation at the first European Identity Congress last year. At that time, I must confess that I was unsure this feature's value in most scenarios - apart from very specific low-risk "open" federations which were already being catered to by OpenID. Charts such as the one featured in this blog entry from Ping still raise a certain scepticism, but maybe that scepticism might prove to be wrong. I am certainly interested in exploring further the value proposition of auto-federation and will make sure to tickle some answers out of the participants in the federated identity track that I'm moderating at our next Conference in April.

As both Sun and Ping will be at the European Identity Conference 2008, we will try to set the stage for an epic battle to be carried out there! And to make it even more interesting, we'll throw the other contenders into the foray as well!



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