There’s a story that goes along with ‘Where the Streets Have No Name”, the opening track of U2’s “The Joshua Tree”. The song seamlessly melds a wonderful introduction–which has a 6/4 time signature—into the body of the song, which is in 4/4. The recording process got so onerous that progress was slow. Very slow. Brian Eno—a prolific and influential producer—concluded that the best approach for finishing the song was starting from scratch. The song’s framework rendered its completion nearly impossible. Just as he was about to erase several months of work, an engineer physically restrained him from hitting the button on the tape machine. U2, Eno, and Daniel Lanois (the other producer) muddled through and finished the masterpiece.
The good news was that the track was nearly completed. Too bad our work in identity management is not. Has its framework become so convoluted to be useful?
The Cloud has changed the enterprise computing model forever. Are we shoehorning Cloud-based identity constructs into antiquated enterprise notions of identity ownership? Have we sliced the identity market so thinly that it has lost coherence and any hope of synergy? Has the market pushed the suite vendors to build integration and common administrative consoles that remain unused and don’t solve real problems?
I am thinking about four goals:
- How do we provide identity attributes to applications when (and only when) they need them?
- How do we enable users to prove their identities while addressing privacy concerns and without needless repetition?
- How do we ensure that users have appropriate access to sensitive information and how do we prove it?
- How do we do these things in an agile, cost-effective manner?
The IdPS team (Bob, Ian, Kevin, Lori, Robin, and I) are planning the 2011 Catalyst agenda and are interested in your perspectives. The agenda will incorporate the thoughts discussed here.
Some relevant research (subscription required):
- The Emerging Architecture of Identity Management
- Directory Services, Federation, and the Cloud
- Mythbusting the IdM Suite
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