Lora Bentley spoke with Dale Olds, Novell Distinguished Engineer. Novell recently established and is funding the Bandit open source identity management project.
Bentley: Media releases indicate that the project's goal is to "unify disparate identity systems and provide a consistent approach to securing and managing identity." Can you elaborate on that?
Olds: Organizations have implemented a broad range of disparate identity-related systems over the past several years to solve a particular identity management challenge within their enterprises. Each of these systems may perform its required functions well enough, but as the number of these systems increase, so too does the complexity of managing these systems. This also makes it very difficult for organizations to ensure security and compliance. What the Bandit project seeks to do is abstract this complexity for both end users and IT staff - to provide identity services that enable a consistent experience for common identity management challenges such as authentication, role-based access and compliance reporting. And of course Bandit is doing this in open source, and based on open standards so that all the components will work with existing industry standards such as WS- * and Liberty Federation, and open source projects including Eclipse Higgins.
Bentley: How is Bandit different from Eclipse Higgins?
Olds: Bandit leverages as well as contributes to the Higgins project, and the two projects will share many components. While the Higgins project focuses more on the user-centric aspect of the emerging identity space, the Bandit project will build components with an emphasis on those of use to enterprise identity management systems - components such as role-based authorization, audit record collection, and others that are not in the scope of Higgins.
Bentley: Why is it important that the software developed in this project be open source?
Olds: There are many reasons why this work is appropriate for the open source model. This is a major challenge that will not be solved by any one vendor. We have made a lot of progress on standards and protocols and provided much more interoperability then we've ever had, but we don't have common implementations. Open source brings the community together to work on a problem and as a result, increases the chances of broad adoption.