Q&A: The Kantara Initiative and the global identity landscape

Roger Sullivan serves as president of the Kantara Initiative Board of Trustees and president of the Liberty Alliance Management Board. He is vice president, Oracle Identity Management where most of his time is spent with Oracle’s premier customers. In this interview he discusses the Kantara Initiative in detail.

How was the idea born and what’s the main goal of the Kantara Initiative?
The launch of Kantara Initiative comes after more than a year of planning initiated by Liberty Alliance as part of its annual review and strategic planning process. The goal of this planning was to investigate ways to bring communities and organizations representing the entire identity ecosystem together to discuss how to best move the identity industry forward. Conversations focused largely on how the industry could better collaborate to address new identity management requirements as the enterprise identity landscape continues to evolve and use of social networking and Web 2.0 applications rapidly proliferates. The launch of Kantara Initiative is the result of this strategic planning. The goal of the organization is to work collaboratively to solve harmonization and interoperability challenges among identity-enabled enterprise, Web 2.0 and Web-based applications and services.

Who are the founding members? How can new members apply?
Kantara Initiative has been co-founded by Concordia Project, DataPortablity Project, Information Card Foundation, Internet Society, Liberty Alliance, OpenLiberty.org and XDI.org. The Kantara Initiative membership structure is based on a bicameral governance model where the Board of Trustees and Leadership Council work hand-in-hand as peers in steering the direction of the organization. The bicameral model ensures that all members and participants can have a voice within Kantara Initiative. With last week’s launch, representatives from AOL, BT, CA, Intel, Internet Society, Fidelity Investments, Novell, NRI, NTT, Oracle, PayPal and Sun Microsystems have been elected to the Kantara Initiative Board of Trustees. Representatives from Intel and the New Zealand government have Leadership Council seats on the Board of Trustees.

The Kantara Initiative membership structure is unique in that it has been organized to ensure that there are zero barriers to participation. Membership levels allow for maximum industry-wide participation and include Participant, Member and Trustee categories, which individuals and organizations join depending on the size of the organization and type of desired participation. Becoming a member of the Kantara Initiative is simple, with more information available here.

What activities do you have lined-up for the rest of 2009?
Since launching the Kantara Initiative name at the April 2009 RSA Conference members of the identity community have proposed nearly 20 initial work and discussion groups. All groups are open to every Kantara Initiative member – as well as to the public – and anyone can suggest a new group to the Leadership Council at any time. Groups are formed by members and participants to address common issues and problems related to specific industries.

Proposed groups are being approved on an ongoing basis by the Leadership Council and include Concordia Use Cases, Consumer Identity eGovernment, Federated Identity Model Agreement & Commentary (FIMAC), Health Identity and Assurance, Identity Assurance and Accreditation, Identity Provider Selection, ID-WSF Evolution (OAuth Extensions), Japan, Multi-Protocol Identity Selection, Multi-Protocol Relying Party Deployment, Privacy and Public Policy, Telecommunications Identity, User Driven Information Technology and Volunteered Personal Information (VPI). A list of all of the groups in progress is available here.

What are your plans for the near future?
While the organization is in its infancy, members will shape the future of Kantara Initiative based on output stemming from work groups. Equally as important, organizations joining Kantara Initiative as members will determine what projects within their unique communities will move to Kantara Initiative. And this is an important point for demonstrating the value Kantara Initiative will bring to the global identity sector. Existing projects moving into Kantara Initiative will benefit from additional community input, which will include identifying new use cases, support for adding functionality, and opportunities for proving interoperability with other projects, initiatives and technologies.

For example, from the Liberty Alliance perspective, we expect to migrate the highly successful Liberty Interoperable SAML 2.0 testing program into Kantara Initiative. And we also expect the program to evolve within the community to eventually include testing for a variety of additional identity specifications. The same is true for the Liberty Identity Assurance Framework and soon-to-be released corresponding Identity Assurance Accreditation and Certification program. We expect both of these programs to evolve faster based on the broad collaboration that is occurring within the Kantara Initiative community.

And this is what Kantara Initiative is all about – industry-wide collaboration among organizations and initiatives to move the identity industry forward. With nearly 20 initial work and discussion groups already in the pipeline, every indicator is pointing to the long-term success of Kantara Initiative.

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