Given this is my second blog entry in as many days you’re either in for a treat or the tedium continues; I leave  you to decide.  I’d also add that due to train issues, this and the above entry WERE written separately but offline as there doesn’t yet appear to be a 3G service that provides continuous coverage on the journeys I make; if anyone can suggest one then please comment below.

So,  today was IDM2008, billed as an opportunity for those from business and government to get together and share their experiences on identity management.  I was the representative from higher and further education and giving a presentation on Innovation, which outlined what we had done on the Access Management Federation and subsequent developments.

The day featured the following presentations;

·         Graham Morrison on getting Kerberos to solve the Home Office’s issues of ‘seamless authentication’ across a range of different systems.  I liked this one for a number of reasons.  The first was that it was using what was already there and proven to work, which I think is important in identity and access management (IAM).  Next, it has been kept simple – you can’t get much more simple than using Kerberos to issue a ticket to authenticate the user (the Ticket Granting Ticket) and a ticket to authorise them to do ‘stuff’ (the Session Ticket or TGS).  Finally, it deals with levels of assurance but only gets into heavyweight biometrics and role-based access control, etc when it needs to;

·         David McIntosh (hope I spelt that right) presenting on biometric technologies and SITC.  The former taught me that your ear echoes back any sound that is played into it in a unique way to you; interesting but not particularly useful unless you want to biometrically identify someone in a quiet environment.  The latter could be more widely useful to JISC as it is a body consisting of SMEs that would like to engage with universities;

·         Jim Slevin on Manchester Airports IDM systems.  A very topical presentation as the authentication of a user can now be carried out by National Identity Card, which has caused quite a stir in the papers this morning.  More interestingly, their focus was on delivering a capability, not a solution, which I think we should focus more on.  You can actually do something with a  capability;

·         Joe Baguely presented on AD as an identity store.  The sub-title was ‘are you mad?’ and I think this summed up many people’s impression of doing this but Joe presented a very convincing argument to re-use what is already in place with Active Directory (AD) and carried out a rather unsubtle plug for his organisation, which does this and I am not going to repeat here.  I also quite liked the idea of Segregation of Duties or SOD – I’ve known it as a concept but having an acronym somehow makes me feel so much better;

·         Fraud and IDM by Logica.  I quite liked the abstract for this so attended.  I didn’t entirely regret it but found out more interesting facts about fraud than necessarily the business case for IDM, which is why I’d originally gone;

·         Dave Nesbitt on how to avoid an identity trainwreck.  Whilst this was saying what we all know such as getting senior level sponsorship, having clear priorities on what is going to be done agreed with key users, iteratively deploying rather than going for big bang and technology is difficult, it’s the human stuff that is difficult, it’s all worth repeating.  Even the take home message was worthwhile: ‘IDM is many small projects to constantly improve your infrastructure that never end’;

·         David Bowen looked at how identity management worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital.  I didn’t learn much from this but had a sharp intake of breath on the mention that single sign-out is more difficult but more valuable than single sign-in.  On the Shib front I don’t think we are ever going to get there and we shouldn’t be trying given the issues, IMHO;

·         Yours truly was next up and if you read this blog and the stuff on what I do on the JISC site then you’re going to know what was presented;

·         Conn Crawford went through how local authorities approach identity management but specifically what Sunderland have been doing.  It was great to see Conn again.  He has a knack of connecting up a range of identity management ‘stuff’ to do really valuable things in the community.  What he has done ranges from federated solutions right the way through to user-centric identity management and he was presenting on the Let’s Go Sunderland portal he has put together that allows kids from a disadvantaged background to load up a smart card with activities they can attend.  They have an allowance every month and sign up for activities but the smart thing is that they also tell the portal what they are interested in, which gives the resource providers some anonymised marketing info back and hence an incentive to offer their resources to the scheme.  This is a great example of making personalisation work whilst protecting the individual;

·         Alan Coburn presented on Glow, a teaching and learning portal for Scottish schools.  I think the most interesting thing out of this was that schools wanted to sign up for it, hence there were a great number of users, and that they had used Shib but not the federation.  It turns out the latter was due to specifying it before the federation existed;

·         Hellmuth Broda had the rather unenviable task of being last up and went through Liberty Alliance.  All very good stuff but nothing new for me.  What was of more interest was his company’s creation of batches of unique codes that could be attached to 2D bar codes, RFID tags and text messages; basically, name a media and it could be attached.  The potential was huge as these codes linked to specific actions such as vouchers, one time visits to web sites, etc.  More info on this is at;


Thanks also go to Professor Gloria Laycock, who did a great job chairing the meeting to the extent that we even finished early!  All in all, a useful day and there were quite a few contact I met during the day that I’ll follow up further.  Well worth a look next year if you are interested in identity management outside the education sector.