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By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2005-02-21 Print this article Print

The Liberty Alliance so far has received more support for its federated service than rivals have. Founded in 2001, the alliance comprises more than 150 technology providers and corporations, including General Motors, IBM, American Express Co. and Sun Microsystems Inc.

The Liberty Alliance gained ground earlier this year when eBay Inc. announced it would stop supporting Microsofts Passport service. We are seeing an increasing number of companies, such as eBay, choosing federated identity standards over the possibility of handing control of identification information to third-party companies such as Microsoft.

To encourage industry adoption, the Liberty Alliance has certified several products for technical compliance with its standards and for real-world interoperability.

Click here for a list of Liberty-enabled products. There will be more than 400 million Liberty Alliance-enabled identities and clients by the end of this year, according to Sam Nicholson, former chairman of the Liberty Alliance business and marketing expert group and the manager of strategic industry initiatives at Sun, in Santa Clara, Calif.

To drive adoption rates, the Liberty Alliance in 2003 delivered a set of Web services specifications. At that time, the alliance announced that more than 59 percent of its founding members said they intended to pilot those specifications in their organizations that year.

Technology is the easy part, however. Business issues often raise the biggest hurdles when it comes to deploying federated identity. At GM, for example, IT managers found that business and legal issues consumed most of the time spent on a proof-of-concept federated identity deployment that the automaker launched for its employee portal.

For a look at how GM used Liberty Alliance specifications to streamline access to its employee portal, click here. "The technology is pretty simple, but there are issues around the business that get a little more complicated," said John Jackson, director of software technology at GM, in Detroit. "We worked on part of it to complete the pilot, but well have to come back around to revisit some of the business and legal issues involved."

Senior Writer Anne Chen can be reached at .

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.

As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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