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Identity for the unwashed

Sitting here at this year’s Burton Catalyst conference, I am very excited about the future of identity management. This blog will focus on identity management becoming adopted by the millions of small and medium businesses around the planet…without them knowing about it!

Here at Catalyst I sit surrounded by identity management gurus and its faithful. However, if you stand back and look at who’s attending this conference every year, it’s what I call the Fortune 1000-2000 crowd. The attendees are focused on implementing identity management for large enterprises. The vendors are equally focused on doing the same. But I can smell change in the air.

Millions of small and medium businesses don’t even know the words identity management, nor would they care to. Their interest is in producing goods and services that earn them their incomes. So how will they adopt identity management?

Sitting here listening to the cloud computing presentations, I think that most folks are missing the true revolution of cloud computing. It isn’t the Fortune 2000 who are going to become the biggest adopters quickly…it will be the small businesses.

Most enterprises are 1-100 employees. Most don’t have IT folks and if they do, they surely aren’t trained in identity management.

I believe that most of these enterprises will quickly embrace cloud computing because it offloads the complexity of IT on to others who can manage it for them. Take for example, my friend Derek Small’s company, Nulli Secundus.

Nulli is one of the planet’s pre-eminent identity management consulting companies. With a staff under 50, they are a small boutique business filled with “geeks” or what I jokingly tell Derek is his company of “plumbers”. However, over the last two years, Derek has moved his company to using most of their IT functions into the cloud. It cut’s their costs, simplifies their infrastructure requirements and is reachable from anywhere on the planet where they are working.

Derek’s company is doing what most other small companies are going to do. They will use software as a service models, with payroll, email, “office suite”, accounting, marketing and over time manufacturing software, being run from the cloud. These businesses don’t have the “deep roots” challenges that the opening presentation on cloud described this morning elucidating the problems that large IT depts would face in migrating their functions to the cloud.

Small businesses will see, exactly as Derek’s company did, the business opportunities of using cloud and software as a service and very quickly port over.

When this happens, it opens up all sorts of new ways of doing things for the business. I predict that quickly banks, telco’s and payroll companies will begin to maneuver to become the trusted identity hub for these small and medium businesses. They will use tools like virtual directories to take the identity information from the payroll system and then be able to do authentications and federation services for the small businesses.

Companies like Ping Identity and Fugen are poised for rapid growth in my own opinion. Why?

Ping just announced partnership with Google. It’s Ping connect product enables enterprise to quickly build connectors and conduct federation. Their product fits well with my vision of small businesses quickly federating.

Fugen is a company that I will describe in my next blog. They are key to the ability to create “federation factories” focusing on the business processes and tools requied.

I predict that over the next two to three years, hundreds of thousands and millions of small businesses will begin to use identity management without knowing it. They will authenticate, be provisioned and deprovisioned and federate as required…all done as a service and not broken out as stand alone products.

It’s the beginning of identity for the unwashed. Let the revolution begin!

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