[Dave Birch] I was in a conversation with someone in the identity management field earlier today and he made the point that most identity management implementations today are really just single sign-on with go-faster stripes.  I think this is true, but that doesn’t, I think, mean that they are not worthwhile.  Every survey shows that one of the simplest, and most immediate, elements of an identity management business case has to be the flood of ID-related calls to help desks!  That survey, in fact, reports that forty per cent of help desk calls originate from an identity management problem.  It goes on to say "Despite many organisations putting greater resources into identity management, the problem is putting massive strain on firms".  So clearly greater resources (what are these resources?  coal mines?  hydroelectric power?) are not in themselves a solution.

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The figures also show that a quarter of help desk calls are for password resets and a sixth are to either register new users or to change the privileges.  Managers, I imagine, have no option but to call help desks to do this because they can’t do it themselves (without better authentication).  The survey also points out that the increasing numbers of applications and systems within organisations that need to be accessed by multiple users has exacerbated the problem.

Is federation a solution?  A saw a presentation from Boeing recently which covered some of their experiences with federation on a large scale.  It said that in practice federation was "mostly just single sign on" despite the fact that there are sophisticated federation solutions in the marketplace (and that these products are maturing rapidly) but that it still had many benefits.  These include both increased security because of centralised access management and reduced account administration costs.  Yes, federation doesn’t change the entire company overnight, but if it does make life a little easier and it saves money, it’s worth doing.

My opinions are my own (I think) and are presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public.
[posted with ecto]

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