Sun Identity Server Supports Liberty

Identity-management tool is the first major product from a Liberty Alliance member to supports its specification.

Sun Microsystems Inc. on Monday will unveil its first new identity-management product based on the Liberty Alliance specification it helped create.

Sun One Identity Server 6.0 is hardly a breakthrough product, but customers, competitors and other Liberty Alliance members will be watching its progress closely. It is the first major product from an alliance member to hit the market with support for the Liberty specification. As such, it carries much of the hopes and expectations of the group with it.

The key enhancement in the software is its support for federated services. This enables organizations to share their employees and customers authentication credentials with affiliated Web sites, eliminating the need for individuals to log on to each site separately.

This functionality is provided by the Liberty Alliance 1.0 specification, which is built upon the SAML (Secure Assertion Markup Language) 1.0 spec. Sun and the Liberty Alliances other members are counting on demand for this kind of federation to drive demand for Liberty-enabled products.

However, some Liberty members say their customers have yet to ask for this functionality in any meaningful numbers.

The alliance began life as an effort to develop an alternative to Microsoft Corp.s Passport online identity service. However, Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., has shied away from that characterization in recent months, preferring instead to discuss Libertys efforts as a unique authentication scheme in its own right. Passport has all but wrapped up the consumer market for such services—more by default than anything else—and Sun and Liberty have begun to concentrate their efforts on the enterprise market.

Identity Server 6.0 also includes several other new features, including one-click digital certificate requests and issuance via the Sun One Certificate Server, digital signing of log files for non-repudiation purposes, and a Java-based management console.