Sun executives say the Java-based tool is the first open-source implementation of the Liberty Alliance and a prototype of Sun's forthcoming server software, called , which will manage computer user's access and authentication.
The Liberty Alliance Project is an effort to establish a universal online authentication system that serves as an alternative to Microsoft's proprietary Passport online ID system. Both efforts have the same goal: let people surf the Web without having to constantly re-enter passwords, names and other data at different sites.
About half a dozen companies--including Sun, Novell, RSA Security and Entrust--have announced they are planning to support Liberty in their software products. The Liberty Alliance Project, which has the support of big-name companies such as United Airlines, American Express, MasterCard and General Motors, released the first version of the standard in July.
Sun rounded up Liberty Alliance partners, but Sun Chief Executive Scott McNealy recently CNET News.com that the idea for the project came from Visa International.
Sun executives, who plan to release Identity Server 6.0 at year's end, said they developed the new open-source tool because their customers wanted to test out the Liberty standard. Businesses that use the open-source tool can transfer their software code and re-use it with Sun's Identity Server, said Andrew Eliopoulos, Sun's marketing director for the product.
The open-source tool can be downloaded free from Sun's Web site.
In other news, Sun on Wednesday announced that General Electric has used Sun's portal-server software to build a corporate portal Web site for its employees, contractors and consultants.