Gartner introduced the decentralized identity (DID) conceptual architecture in “Blockchain: The Dawn of Decentralized Identity ,” which was published in September 2016. In a decentralized identity model, users generate and manage their own digital identity without relying on a central repository. More than a year later, design patterns and integration scenarios that instantiate DID architecture and potential disruption angles are becoming more evident. Decentralized identity is evolving into self-sovereign identity networks and verification services. In a self-sovereign DID model, users are practically in control of their identity and related attributes. We captured the advancement in self-sovereign DID design in ” Blockchain: Evolving Decentralized Identity Design ,” which was published in December 2017.
Generally, more vendors and projects are adopting a self-sovereign DID vision that can potentially disrupt traditional identity services. This has sparked interesting debate in the identity community. We believe decentralized identity has theoretic potentials to disrupt current siloed and centralized identity architectures by re-imagining the identity data model. Some of the current proof of concept projects and early stage vendor products shows a glimpse of what is in the hopper for future.
However, anyone who understands the complexity of managing identity and access, knows that there are many ugly devils in a ton of details. And that’s where the hard work begins. Beyond all the whitepapers, demos, and (straightforward) use cases, conferences, and fund raising, organizations and vendors must focus squarely on execution. But this is not just like any typical execution. A word of caution is to watch the “Decentralized” part of “Decentralized Identity”. DID vendors and service providers must collaborate effectively and adopt an open, diverse, and interoperable architecture to materialize the DID vision. There is no all or nothing. The architecture must be inclusive which require more coopetition. The hidden message here is not to fall into closed anti-pattern designs at this early stage of development.
We are watching self-sovereign identity evolution closely to update our position frequently:
- If you are adopting DID or have an active project, feel free to send us your top of mind questions. We’ll try to address those questions in our upcoming research as we report on the state of DID.
- If you have interesting products, services, and research, you can arrange for a formal vendor briefing.
 Full report is available to Gartner for Technical Professionals subscribers.