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Identity: Technology transitions stir passion

Identity is talking on a new level of importance as cloud and mobile computing put pressure on corporate IT. What impact will that have on enterprise architects and networks. This blog plans to help you figure that out.
Written by John Fontana, Contributor on

I've been here before and I'm excited to be back.

"Here" being a significant cross-road on the computing landscape where IT is faced with rationalizing what they have come to trust against the promise of a brighter, but still loosely defined, future.

Identity is now at that cross-road, and I hope we can track and examine the implications.

One of my "before" experiences began in 1997 with a near bare-knuckle brawl between supporters of X.500 directory services and some upstart mavericks touting the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). I had limited knowledge of the topic then, but the passion was distinct and the consequences meaningful.

I feel the same forces building now behind identity, which at its core tracks on the evolutionary curve of the directory.

Back then, the disruptor was the Internet and reliance on TCP/IP, and it changed computing forever.

Today, traditional network boundaries are disappearing in the face of cloud adoption. Security perimeters, built over years with layers of technology, are under attack from software-as-a-service, mobile computing, ubiquitous connectivity and roaming users.

How does IT proceed in what will likely be a gradual, evolutionary twist on identity in general? How does IT track and log who is doing what, when, where and with whom. Who provides the credentials, who assumes the liability and who brokers the trust.

The implications are huge. Those that pull in their heads and hide underneath their network security shells could be left behind by a wave of innovation that could completely re-define corporate computing, but, at least, will change it forever. Those that forge ahead likely will help define cloud security going forward.

From an identity perspective, the issues are not inconsequential - authentication, authorization, access control, federation, privacy, governance, social media, mobile computing, API integration, compliance, audit and standards.

There is ongoing work on a new generation of identity and access management software, services and standard protocols. It is all designed to extend today's corporate systems and bend them to accommodate a brave new world.

That is why I am excited to be back in the mix. I hope I can use this space to highlight the issues, the trends, the blind spots, the successes, the failures and the impact on IT.

If you read my bio, you will see that I am an Identity Evangelist with Ping Identity. In my role here, I am free to report objectively on the industry.

Hopefully, what's created is part education and part debate. Part critique and part criticism. Whatever it is, come back often and explore the issues.

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