Identity Infrastructure or Duct Tape?

Radovan Semančík has some interesting thoughts on this recent Identity Bus discussion. Radovan sees a whole lot of Duct Tape:

All the “buses” are just that. A duct tape. The best product for temporary fixes ever made. But you cannot really build an infrastructure on duct tape, can you?. How you would make a water supply system for a big city using a duct tape? How long can that last? Can you duct tape an electricity distribution system?

 My question is if all these buses go somewhere. What is the systemic solution that we want to achieve? What is our vision? Where we want to go? As the Cheshire Cat observed, if we do not know where we want to go it does not matter which road we take.

On the one hand I think Radovan is too hung up on the name “Identity Bus”. I think what we are discussing here is more of an Identity Layer that is intended to be ubiquitous in an enterprise infrastructure. Of course as I have pointed out before, we already have that in AD. What we are discussing is how to improve on that.

On the other hand Radovan is spot-on about one of my frustrations about the Identity Bus discussion. There is not nearly enough discussion about what such a system would actually do. So far the general consensus seems to be that an Identity Bus is:

  • Enterprise Ubiquitous (i.e. an Identity Layer)
  • Based on Claims and Claims Transformation
  • Multi-protocol (i.e. supports LDAP, SAML, XACML, SPML, etc)
  • Supports both push and pull models

 OK, fine. Those are all laudable goals. But what exactly are we going do with all that? Is this a solution looking for a problem or is there a real vision? Is the Identity Bus a real infrastructure, or is it duct tape?

BTW: Why is duct tape like the Force? There is a light side and a dark side and it binds the Universe together.

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