Sun ‘Open-Sources’ Its Authentication Technology

Sun Microsystems earlier this week announced plans to open source its Web site authentication and Web single sign-on (SSO) technologies through the Open Source Web Single Sign-On (OpenSSO) project.

The company’s goal is to empower Java technology developers to participate in the evolution of these security components and ultimately include them in every application Sun builds and deploys.

Sun also plans to release the source code for agents to connect the Web site authentication and Web SSO technologies with the Sun Java System Web Server and Sun Java System Application Server.

“Sun is committed to removing the barriers to participation by open sourcing the most widely used building blocks within the Java Enterprise System,” said John Loiacono, executive vice president of Sun’s Software Group.

Creating Community

Sun also announced it has created an OpenSSO community Web site. OpenSSO is designed to provide developers with project information and resources to foster discussion and facilitate participation in the community, including: roadmaps, FAQs, documentation, tutorials, sample code and mailing lists.

Initial source code will be available beginning in the fourth quarter of 2005, with full release of OpenSSO in spring 2006 under the under the Open Source Initiative-approved Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL). Sun also uses the CDDL license for its OpenSolaris project.

“By creating the OpenSSO community, Sun is leading the identity management industry in a new direction, providing the Java developer community with open access to technology and the ability to shape that technology’s evolution,” Loiacono said. “Web site authentication and SSO technologies are mandatory elements of a secure Web infrastructure and by opening access to these important components, we will enable developers to rapidly and securely build applications.”

A Good Open Source Citizen

Steve Garone, vice president for applications and integration infrastructure software at Ideas International, told LinuxInsider he is not surprised Sun has open sourced its identity management technologies.

“Sun has a realization that it has not been successful at creating a consistently profitable and competitive software business,” Garone said. “The solution is to leverage its products to get its technologies, its name, its expertise, and its services and support out into the field. That will lead to leverage points to create opportunities in business where they are known and can do a good job.”

Analysts said the move also makes Sun a better open-source citizen, which is important, considering the blows it has taken over the past few years from the open-source community that considered Sun somewhat too proprietary.

“Part of Sun’s overall strategy is to become a better community player and to be perceived as such,” Garone said. “Doing it with products that haven’t made them a lot of money in categories in which they aren’t perceived as being in a leadership position is an easier thing for them to do than for a company that is.”

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