Liberty Alliance Converges with SAML

In the past, cooperation among identity management standards organizations consisted of thinly laced talk about convergence. Today, at least two identity specifications are one step closer to being drawn together.

The Liberty Alliance has announced the public draft release of ID-WSF 2.0, the second generation of its federated identity and Web service standards framework. The framework continues to advance on a feature by feature basis; most significantly, WSF 2.0 supports OASIS's SAML 2.0 secure data exchange specification.

Liberty Alliance is a consortium of over 150 companies dedicated to the establishment of open federated network identity standards. That being said, Liberty is one of many such organizations. Another chief participant in the space is Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), which plays host to both OASIS Security Service (SAML) and the XRI Data Interchange (XDI) technical committees.

SAML is an XML-based framework that facilitates the secure exchange of security credentials between Web services. WSF 2.0 has been drafted to help define how SAML 2.0 assertions should be used to relay information between identity-based Web services. All existing and future SAML 2.0 projects are compatible to work with the Liberty specifications.

Liberty's support of SAML 2.0 in its framework is hailed by some as an example of the type of step that is necessary for a longitudinal convergence of standards.

Gerry Gebel, senior analyst with Burton Group, said in a statement, "SAML 2.0 is a significant convergence point in the evolution of federation standards. It's important that vendors and other organizations involved in the standards development process provide a clear roadmap to support this latest version of SAML."

Support for SAML 2.0 is the first stopping point in a multi-phase rollout of WSF 2.0. The specification has two more stops to go before it is approved by the end of 2005. Upcoming enhancements are: automatic notifications of changes from Web service providers; centrally managed group identities; principally referenced lists of contacts to enable the sharing of digital assets among friends/colleagues; and the discovery of device profiles that will expand the depth of available authentication mechanisms.

More precise information on WSF 2.0 is available on the Liberty Alliance Web site.

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