SAP eyes Sun Liberty Alliance security camp

SAP AG is leaning toward backing the Sun Microsystems Inc.-led Liberty Alliance for online authentication services and will make an announcement about security plans some time this month, said SAP officials today at the SAP TechEd conference.

Sun's Liberty Alliance and Microsoft Corp.'s Passport are intended to provide online authentication services, or federated identities, which is how they were termed by SAP's Sachar Paulus, director of product management for SAP security in Walldorf, Germany.

Through federated identities, online customers will have a mechanism for forwarding trusted identity information, Paulus said.

The company formally has not decided whether to opt for the Liberty Alliance or the Microsoft Corp. initiative, Passport, Paulus said on Tuesday.

But Paulus said companies involved in business-to-business exchanges would not want to yield control of corporate information assets to a third party, as would be required with the Microsoft plan, which involves deployment of a centralized database to maintain this data.

The Sun plan, on the other hand, takes a federated, less-centralized approach, Paulus said.

SAP, however, will have to support Microsoft's efforts in some way because of Microsoft's strength in the front-end application market, Paulus said.

Microsoft has said it would consider handing over management of Passport to a group made up of rivals and corporate partners, and that it would open Passport up to work with similar, competing services.

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