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Novell, Oracle move ahead with Liberty

Creating more momentum for Liberty Alliance, Novell and Oracle plan to introduce federated identity management software.

Novell and Oracle are detailing plans to introduce identity management software based on Liberty Alliance guidelines, creating more momentum for the digital-identity consortium.

The Liberty Alliance, a consortium of more than 150 organizations, works on specifications to let people sign on to multiple networks by entering user information--such as name and password--only once.

Through a project code-named Odyssey, Novell in the first half of next year will update its security software so that business partners can safely share a person's log-in information and password, the company said Wednesday. This federated identity management system is designed to streamline online transactions such as reserving hotels, cars and airline tickets from multiple providers, or allowing an employee to securely access multiple applications at once.

Oracle, too, said Wednesday that it will introduce a federated identity management system. The company already sells Oracle Identity Management for accessing multiple systems in conjunction with the Oracle Application Server 10g. Oracle plans to use the Liberty guidelines to update its current product.

Oracle and Novell said their respective identity management systems will be based on the specifications defined by the Liberty Alliance Project, whose members include both technology providers and companies that offer consumer services, such as Visa and Fidelity Investments. Both Oracle and Novell are Liberty members.

The two companies also said they will use Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML), an XML-based document definition developed through standards body Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS), to represent a person's identity information.

Founded in 2001, the Liberty Alliance has seen an uptick in momentum in the past few weeks. IBM, which is a not a Liberty member, said Thursday that it won a contract with France Telecom to build a single log-on system based on Liberty that will be available to 50 million cell phone users. Computer Associates and Intel also recently became members of the group.

Liberty's technology isn't the only one competing for acceptance. Rivals include a Web services specification published by IBM, Microsoft and others. Meanwhile, Microsoft has scaled back commitment to its Passport Web authentication service, which was once considered the main alternative to Liberty.