Sun readying Liberty Alliance spec, product offering

Sun Microsystems plans to offer technology based on the Liberty Alliance network identity specification this winter, in the same timeframe as the release of the specification's first phase, Sun officials said on Thursday.

Sun hopes to ship product in parallel or shortly after the specification is released, said Bill Smith, Sun director of Liberty Alliance Technology, during a session at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

Sun officials would not comment on the specifics of any product offerings planned.

The Liberty Alliance is an industry organization formed in October 2001 to develop a federated, single sign-on system for e-commerce. The Internet-based technology would enable users to log in once and be authenticated to a variety of network devices supporting the Liberty standard. Users would be able to access Web sites as well as network services.

The first phase of the specification due this winter will focus on enabling businesses to cooperate by mutually recognizing authentication across service offerings, according to a spokesperson for Liberty Alliance. As an example, a customer account at an airline compliant with the specification would be in turn recognized at a compliant rental car company.

A second phase of the specification, details of which were not revealed, is due by the end of the year.

In addition to Sun, other Liberty Alliance members include General Motors Corp., United Airlines Inc., American Express Co., and Nokia Corp. SAP AG has expressed an interest in joining the organization, which currently has more than 40 members.

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