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Identity gets lost in the cloud

With everyone seemingly caught up in cloud computing, I was struck by this quote from a CNN story: Microsoft's “newest Internet software and applications project, Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS), aims to provide services to businesses such as records storage, billing, personalization, voice-to-text translation and other capabilities delivered via the Internet rather than by way of a local server.” Sounds like cloud-based computing, doesn't it?

But that story was written nine years ago. In fact, it was at TechED in 2000 that I first heard about NGWS, later re-christened .NET (pronounced “dot net”). But – at least according to what I wrote at the time – I was more interested in what Judge Jackson would decide as the outcome of the Microsoft antitrust trial than I was about some Web services/software-as-a-service/cloud-like scheme of computing.

Take a moment to read the whole CNN story referenced above. You'll see that Microsoft really did have a vision of what we're now calling cloud computing and – most interesting to me – identity (and security) weren't mentioned at all. Evidently current thinking derives entirely from that vision since identity (and security) appear to be recent afterthoughts in the rush to create cloud-based services.

I did mention one company working in the Identity-as-a-Service (IaaS) space a couple of weeks ago (“Start-up tackles identity-as-service,”) and there are some clarifications to that story I should tell you about, since Gluu CEO Michael Schwartz was quick to point them out to me.

He particularly wanted to make clear that “Gluu is a service like Facebook, so we are not technically open source. Our role is more analogous to a clearinghouse for identity information. At one point, we were thinking of marketing Gluu as a Facebook for organizations.”

Actually, I think I like “clearinghouse for identity information,” myself. It encapsulates what cloud-based IaaS should be. In fact, it's really more descriptive than IaaS for what it is and does. And it shouldn't be too late to start using that reference since, as Schwartz pointed out to me, “Its been a real challenge figuring out how to position the service so that non-geeks can understand what we do. 'IdaaS' is accurate, but not that well known.” Not only not well known, but also not widely implemented. Let's change that.

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