The Higgins and Bandit open-source projects are claiming a milestone in the development of open-source identity services with a link to a new Microsoft identity system.
At next week's RSA Conference in San Francisco, backers of Higgins and Bandit plan to demonstrate an early version of an application that shows open-source identity services that are interoperable with Microsoft’s Windows CardSpace and can enable Liberty Alliance-based identity federation via Novell Access Manager, a commercial Novell product.
"The key point here is that open-source components are providing the ability to integrate these identity systems and products," Dale Olds, a distinguished engineer at Novell, said in an interview. Novell is a contributor to Higgins and created Bandit. Both open-source efforts were launched last year.
Higgins was presented as an open-source response to Microsoft's Windows CardSpace, formerly known as InfoCard. Like the Microsoft effort, Higgins is meant to give people more control of their data when they do business online. However, it also promises to provide interoperability between various identity systems used on the Internet.
The Bandit project aims to create a set of open-source components for services that use identity data in online transactions, whether corporate or consumer. Liberty Alliance was formed in 2001 to outflank Microsoft's now largely defunct Passport initiative and develop standards for federated online verification of identity.
People working on Higgins, which is backed by Novell and IBM, plan this summer to deliver a first version of what's called the Higgins Trust Framework. The interoperability with Microsoft that is being shown off at the RSA Conference is a major step towards that, said Mary Ruddy, a Higgins project leader.
"It is a technical milestone on our way to the 1.0 release," Ruddy said. "Higgins is a Switzerland of identity management products; these are examples of identity projects that we're interoperating and integrating with."
The early version of the application to be shown next week allows an individual to use different digital identity "I-Cards" to gain access to online sites and services, according to Higgins and Bandit. This is the metaphor Microsoft uses in CardSpace, which ships with the Vista operating system.
Developers on the open-source projects got help from Microsoft in making the interoperability happen, Ruddy said. Microsoft is pleased that its ideas are finding a following in the open-source world, said Kim Cameron, architect for identity and access at Microsoft.
"It's rewarding to see the Bandit and Higgins projects, as well as the larger open-source community, embracing this concept and delivering on the promise of identity interoperability," Cameron said.