Sun looks to Liberty for network identity solution

Sun Microsystems plans to launch a series of network identity products in March designed to tackle business problems around digital identity, company officials said Thursday. The forthcoming solution, as well as other Sun and iPlanet technologies, will be built to leverage technology from the Sun-led identity effort of the Liberty Alliance Project, as it becomes available.

The digital identity offering will be a collection of software, servers, and technology alliances designed to create an overall solution for digital identity, said Mark Herring, director of corporate strategy and planning at Sun.

"Network identity is more a business problem. Our solution will be designed to solve that business problem. It will have products, solutions, and partners around that," he said.

The network identity offering will take advantage of technology and a digital identity specification from the Liberty Alliance when it is ready, Herring said.

Sun has already said it plans to incorporate Liberty technology into its iPlanet Directory and Portal Server products when a specification is available.

Sun is also keeping its eye on how to generate revenue from the Liberty project, Herring said.

"Our involvement in Liberty is not just for the good of mankind. We are looking at how do we make revenue by providing solutions in this space," he said.

Sun, along with a slew of technology and industry players, last year formed the Liberty Alliance, which is fostering the creation of an open identity standard for authenticating users on the Internet.

The Liberty Alliance has gathered support from vendors such as AOL Time Warner Inc., American Express Co., Novell Inc., General Motors Corp., Nokia Corp., and United Air Lines Inc. The Liberty Alliance members are developing the business rules and technology elements for an open and federated network identity system, which would let businesses and consumers maintain control of personal information on the Internet.

The Liberty project is competing against Microsoft Corp.'s Passport network identity model, which has been criticized by Sun and others who fear the prospect of network identity falling under the control of a single vendor. Microsoft has hinted it may join the Liberty effort or link its Passport technology to the Liberty system.

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