So, where is the digital you?

There has been a lot of focus on user-centric identity in recent months, but let us not forget about the identity metasystem. The identity metasystem concept is important because it recognizes that even if it is desirable for there to be one protocol that everyone speaks, to get there from here requires a pragmatic acceptance that there will be more than one protocol in the meantime. While choice is a marvelous thing in many situations, it isn’t something that the vendor relishes at the protocol level. When the customer comes calling must you turn them away because they speak OpenID and your software speaks SAML? Recalling my blog regarding the Microsoft Open Specification Promise, multiple standards mean your bolts don’t fit your nuts unless you buy them both from the same vendor. The identity metasystem must provide the necessary adapters so that different systems produced by different vendors on different platforms can at least understand each other, even if they don’t speak the same language.

One might ask who will be building the parts that make the system a metasystem. Clearly, one vendor who is doing that is Microsoft with CardSpace. However, one vendor a metasystem doesn’t make. To make the identity metasystem a reality it must come from multiple vendors, it must be ubiquitous, and it must be in the DNA of the platform. This is why open source efforts such as the Higgins project are so important, because they provide the means to make the identity metasystem cross-platform, cross-vendor, and cross-identity context. This might be considered the primary focus of the OSIS project as a whole - to make the identity metasystem happen. Red Hat supports the efforts of these projects and any project that works to make the identity metasystem a reality.

The correct answer to the question “where is the digital you?”