Information Cards going public…

26.06.2008 by Martin Kuppinger

Yes, I know – Information Cards (or Infocards) and their incarnation in Microsoft Windows CardSpace have been around for a while. But it was mainly the inner circle of Identity Management (and especially of user-centric Identity Management) who was really aware of this. With the recent announcement of the Information Card Foundation (ICF), Microsoft and others are trying to improve the visibility of Information Cards as a core element of Identity Management in the so called cloud.

There has been some discussion around the announcement in blogs and forums in the Internet. One of the most interesting aspects discussed is the necessity to educate the broader public about the concepts and value of Information Cards and the entire “Identity Management for the cloud” (aka user-centric Identity Management, aka Identity 2.0). That must be a main target of ICF, but as well of all the other players in this emerging market.

First of all, I’m convinced that Information Cards as well as OpenID will become central standards in the Internet and for Identity Management. Given that at least OpenID isn’t that far away from reaching the critical mass and that Microsoft Vista adoption (which makes it easier to use CardSpace) is happening pretty fast, as well as some important Open Source initiatives working on these topics, that might happen earlier than most expect today.

Nevertheless it is important to explain the concepts for everyone – and to address the privacy and security concerns many will have. There are so many things which can be done using these technologies, from Single Sign-On and Profile Management in the web up to Corporate Business Cards. But they require an accepted concept.

Thus, the idea of ICF is great, when it goes beyond technical discussions around use cases and implementations issues and really focuses on education as well. On the other hand the member list of ICF proves that there is strong interest and support in the industry for Information Cards. You can bet that no one is in there who doesn’t expect that the use of Information Cards won’t support his business – otherwise they wouldn’t invest time and money into ICF.

ICF is a great thing from my perspective. It will drive Information Cards forward – and thus the Identity Management for the cloud.


The secret leader in context-based authentication and authorization?

19.06.2008 by Martin Kuppinger

Context-based authentication and authorization is one of the topics which have the potenzial to become the next hype. I’ve posted twice on this subject, here and here and we had, led by Dave Kearns, a lot of discussions around this at our EIC 2008. I’m convinced that the topic will become even more important at next year’s EIC.

Besides the ones which are obvious players in that future market segment like the risk-based authentication vendors (Arcot, Entrust, Oracle, RSA and some others) there are some other categories of vendors which offer even today at least some context-based authentication and authorization. One of them is Citrix. Given the number of installations of the Citrix Access Gateway they might even be sort of the leader in that market.

You might argue: A SSL Gateway is not a solution for context-based authentication and authorization. Yes – and no. No because a SSL Gateway without additional components is just a SSL Gateway. Yes, if you combine a Citrix Access Gateway with other things. At an Citrix Analyst Briefing yesterday, a Swiss bank talked about their approach for controlling access of remote workers. They use the Citrix Access Gateway together with many other Citrix technologies and with a NAP (Network Access Protection) tool from EPA factory.

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Shouldn’t there be a common understanding of the term “service”?

13.06.2008 by Martin Kuppinger

These days I’ve read some entries in the Beteo blog, a blog provided by a swiss software and consulting company which is somewhere in between SOA and BSM – or BTO, the term they tend to use due to some affinity to HP. The interesting thing is that Beteo not only claims but proves that Service Management principles and tools which are commonly used more in the IT Infrastructure Management can be applied to the field of Software Change Management as well. Beteo, a company I’m in contact with since they’ve been founded (and I have been in contact even with their predecessor), uses this concept with success especially in SAP environments.

That leads to the obvious conclusion: There should be a much more common service understanding. There should be one BSM approach on the upper layer. BSM, as real business service management, should really address the business aspects like

  • Defining services from a business point of view – like “manage a contract” including storage, access rights,…
  • Mapping these business services to IT services
  • Manage these services from a business perspective, e.g. accounting, controlling (do we need these services really?),…

The next layer are IT services, e.g. the more technical services IT provides to deliver a business service. These services can be managed with ITIL principles and – at least to some degree – with today’s so called BSM tools.

Whether the mapping of IT services to the IT implementations of business processes is part of the IT service layer or the business service layer is a matter of definition. I tend to place the description of business process at the business service layer and the implementation of business processes in IT – and thus, the relationship of these processes with IT services – at the IT services layer.

Anyhow, there is a layer below for the different types of IT services. Today, BSM focuses mainly on IT infrastructure services and provides mainly an ITISM (IT Infrastructure Service Management) – and not an ITSM (IT Service Management) or a real BSM (Business Service Management).

Besides the IT Infrastructure Services we have IT Application Services. These services tend to be more granular, down to web services and so on.

But regardless of the service you talk about: Each service can be managed with the same principles – and ITIL (and ISO 20000) is a good point to start if you focus on the principles for managing services. You can define, implement, run, optimize any type of service. Whether you look on high level business services or on low level application services, the way you should handle services is, from a conceptual view, the same. The business aspects like service accounting and controlling can be applied as well on every level.

Given that, a unified view on services and their management would bring a lot of benefits to IT – the reuse of management software, improvements in that software when the experiences of infrastructure and software change management are combined and influence the tools, the capability for an overall auditing and accounting of services, a consistent authorization management for services, their management and their use.

But that would mean that the siloes at the vendor side (where software management is in most cases another division than infrastructure management) disappear as well as the siloes in today’s IT organizations are opened for more cooperation.


GRC and IAM – you can’t separate it

06.06.2008 by Martin Kuppinger

At EIC 2008 I’ve presented our view on the relationship of GRC and IAM as well as our definition of the GRC market, the core results of our GRC market report 2008. Basically, the generic GRC tools we see emerging in the market are becoming more and more the business layer above the classical core IAM tools, e.g. provisioning, self service and some other feature areas.

I’ve been talking with a lot of users within the last few weeks. And what I’ve learned has proven that statement. The most important driver for IAM projects today is the need for defined, auditable processes around user and authorization lifecycle management. And that is about Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance.

To fulfill these requirements, you need a strong IAM foundation. But without a level above for a business-controlled authorization management, for layered attestation from the system up to the business level, for the management of business roles and for a business-centric auditing that won’t fulfill the needs.

Given this it is no surprise that several vendors either integrate more and more of these features in their IAM products, some of them on a high level (Völcker), while others have acquired specialized vendors in both areas (Oracle, SAP, Sun).

Today it is not necessary to buy the IAM and the GRC products from the same vendor, especially because the GRC solutions are in their early stage. And due to the fact that IAM tools always will focus more on the IT level whilst GRC focuses on the business level I’m not sure whether they shall be really integrated. But one thing is sure: You will need both levels of tools to fully support the business requirements which are driving IAM today.


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