Seven pass latest Liberty Alliance conformance tests

HP, NTT, and Symlabs among those who pass test of identify management services

Seven companies' products passed the Liberty Alliance's latest round of conformance tests for interoperability of identify management services, the consortium announced Tuesday.

Three companies, Hewlett-Packard, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) and Symlabs, successfully pitted their products against the final version of ID-WSF 2.0 (Identity Web Services Framework 2.0), the first time this specification has been tested.

ID-WSF 2.0, finalized in October, includes Liberty People Service, an open Web services framework intended for managing applications such as calendars, blogs, or photo sharing while maintaining users' personal privacy in a secure social network.

Although only three companies' ID-WSF 2.0 products passed the test this time, that will likely be enough to drive others to apply, said Roger Sullivan, president of the Liberty Alliance management board.

"With previous protocols, we put out the protocol and we start seeing customers put requirements in RFPs and RFIs that companies must meet the Liberty Alliance tests, and then vendors, in the interest of self-preservation, go out and get certified," he said.

Four other companies, CA, Entr'ouvert, NTT Software, and Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, successfully tested their products against other Liberty Alliance specifications at the conformance tests held in France during the week of Dec. 4, 2006.

It was the last face-to-face conformance test that Liberty Alliance will hold; future rounds will be run over the Internet by Drummond Group, a testing company based in Fort Worth, Texas, said Sullivan.

The face-to-face system requires only that companies test their products with two others, although they are encouraged to test with all other companies present. In the Internet tests, however, Drummond will pair each product with all other participants. That means the tests Drummond conducts for the consortium are likely to take longer -- four to six weeks instead of one week -- but will leave employees free to continue their regular work alongside the testing process, Sullivan said. The effect on software developers' budgets will be minimal, as the increased cost of testing will be offset by the reduced travel costs, he said.

The Liberty Alliance specifications themselves could be transformed in the future: Sullivan said last week that the consortium has begun informal talks with Microsoft about how best to converge its identity Web services framework specifications with Microsoft's WS-Star specifications.

Confusion about the two sets of specifications is bad for vendors and customers, but each set has its place, WS-Star in infrastructure, and WS-F in desktop, device and personal identity management, Sullivan said.

"We believe there is a general acceptance that WS-Star is a great infrastructure protocol and WS-F is a great profiling protocol," he said.

Sullivan expects Microsoft representatives to attend an open Liberty Alliance event in Redwood Shores, California, on Jan. 22., where the consortium's technical experts will present their ideas for the future evolution of the specifications, he said.

Among the companies presenting their products for testing in December was Entr'ouvert, a small French developer of open source software. Entr'ouvert tested Lasso 2.0, a library implementing the ID-FF, ID-WSF and SAML 2.0 protocols in the C programming language, available under the GPL (General Public License).

Existing versions of Lasso are used by French government departments and large companies. Version 2.0, tested in December, will be released this week, said Christophe Boutet, one of the six employees -- and shareholders -- of this workers' cooperative.

"Showing that we meet the specification is important to reassure users in large organizations," Boutet said.

Full details of the software tested in December, and the specifications it met, can be found on the Liberty Alliance Web site.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.