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Saving identity

Dave Kearns | March 22, 2011
Last issue I quoted two industry visionaries, Courion's Chris Zannetos and Netmesh's Johannes Ernst, on the troubles within the identity world -- both the enterprise side and the user-centric side. They painted a bleak picture of where we are and how we got here. Is there a chance to save the visions we've had for identity? Or should we just pack it in and go back to building silos of data protected by border security?

FRAMINGHAM, 22 MARCH 2011 -

Last issue I quoted two industry visionaries, Courion's Chris Zannetos and Netmesh's Johannes Ernst, on the troubles within the identity world -- both the enterprise side and the user-centric side. They painted a bleak picture of where we are and how we got here. Is there a chance to save the visions we've had for identity? Or should we just pack it in and go back to building silos of data protected by border security?

Here's what Ernst has to say:

"So, for now user-centric identity is dead in the sense that it has been losing market share and mind share at a furious rate, with no white knight in sight. It was fun while the ride lasted."

Is there a winner in all this? Johannes notes:

"The clear winner: Facebook. To their credit, they first hired the right people out of the identity world. Then, they thought hard how to turn user-centric identity into a product that mere mortals can understand -- and that increases the Facebook stock price. That it has, literally by billions. Users' lives have become better on the Net as a result, but make no mistake: The primary beneficiary has been Facebook and its shareholders. There is nothing user-centric in Facebook's implementation of identity. At least nothing that any of the [OpenID] visionaries would recognize as part of their vision. Facebook-centric is the best way of calling it."

But he does offer some hope:

User-centric identity "... will come back up for sure, with new visions by (likely) new visionaries. Decentralization, user-centricity, like democracy, does not ever die, it just disappears from sight for a while."

But what of enterprise IdM/IAM? Zannetos does offer a way out of the quagmire, but it will require hard work by everybody. He says:

"Vendors: Don't deliver a piece of the solution and claim it is the silver bullet that solves the whole challenge.

"Customers: hold vendors accountable to deliver value."

Then he really blisters analysts:

"Don't let yourself be fooled by hucksters just because they are arrogant and aggressive. Continue on the path you are going in pulling the curtain back and holding the vendors accountable to deliver software that works in the real world of customers' environments, that isn't built for the vendors' aims but for customer success, that doesn't have implementation costs of eight times the software cost. But hold customers accountable as well and don't allow 'white pages directory victory laps' at your conferences."

So we can all see, I think, what needs to be done. Let's get out there and do it.

 

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