Samo samo for SAML: no Microsoft

Microsoft will remain a no-show at the SAML party.

The Liberty Alliance Project just announced that products from IBM, NEC, NTT and RSA Security have passed the SAML 2.0 interoperability testing that the consortium has been sponsoring. (ZDNet report here.) However, it looks like Microsoft won't be coming to this party any time soon. The software giant won't even be attempting to crash the party.

This report from InfoWorld relays remarks made at Microsoft's IT Forum conference in Barcelona, which indicate that Big Red is intent on backing the competing WS-Federation protocol for identity federation. (Big Blue -- IBM -- also has a hand in WS-Federation, as well as Liberty/SAML.)

Don Schmidt, senior program manager for Microsoft's Identity and Access group, is quoted as saying that "Microsoft has backed WS-Federation protocols for the next generation of message-based applications because it offers a full suite of security, message, and transaction protocols. The company's stance is not about which protocol set is necessarily better but rather which offers a wider flexibility in accommodating federated identity."

"SAML 2.0 protocols are fine for strictly Web single sign-on, Schmidt said, but the WS-Federation protocols are better equipped to deal with a distributed Web services environment for message reliability, transaction support and security; SAML 2.0 does not have reliable messaging or transaction support."

For its part, Liberty Alliance stresses interoperability between multiple vendors as the key to truly federated ID management. "Organizations specifying products that have met Liberty’s requirements for interoperability can count on solutions that will deploy quickly and immediately interoperate with other Liberty-enabled identity solutions. This allows organizations to deploy open federated identity systems faster, more cost-effectively and on the widest possible scale, according to a statement from the consortium.

“Only when identity products from multiple vendors interoperate will organizations be able to realize all of the benefits of wide-scale federation,” said Timo Skytta, vice president of the Liberty Alliance.

That's sounds great; but it looks like we'll continue to have different tracks for accomplishing this. May the best federation win.