Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Identity is king

Many large distributed systems have on success criterion in common – identity (management). This is true for social networks (we all love to be part of), e-commerce platforms, systems operated in the clouds as well as for networks in the realm of automated demand/supply operation (aka Smart Grids). The requirements are not new at all: the identity of a large number of participants must be handled in a way that peers can trust each other based on one or more identity providers. Identity is needed for authentication in order to enforce access control to a resource (a website with profile information, a virtual shopping cart, a database table, a data point, whatever). It’s about the identity of the subject (the source) which has initiated the request to get access to a resource. Before the access rules can be applied (authorization), this authentication must be handled in a trustworthy way. This is complex to achieve, especially in case of multiple domains that operate their own realm of trust. This kind of trust is a precious thing that needs to be protected and maintained. Beside all theory and technical details, it (the precious thing of digital identities in an existing community) is an important asset. A social network identity could be used to get access granted to other resources like a virtual shopping mall or a booking engine for last minute flights. More scenarios are obvious ….

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