Sun targets Microsoft ASP and Passport

Sun Microsystems will use the JavaOne stage this week to push its battle with Microsoft Passport by outlining plans for the SunONE (Open Net Environment) Platform for Network Identity. The new hardware-software-services package is said to manage the identities of users on a network, and directly targets both Microsoft's Active Directory software and the Passport single sign-on authentication service.

The new system is based on the SunONE Web services platform Sun finally brought out late last year as an alternative to Microsoft's wide-ranging .NET offerings. With J2EE at its core, SunONE is intended to be a kind of template for interoperability between devices and networks.

Identity services are essential to the success of Web services, said Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's chief strategy officer. The new package can be used to manage the identity of users on a corporate network or on the Internet, as well as to set access privileges for applications, services and other resources, he added.

Schwartz said the Platform for Network Identity is aimed at three corporate network identity objectives: security and identity control around Web interactions in the form of accurate authorization and authentication; an open identity service, rather than one with the potential to "disintermediate" downstream; and a rapid and comprehensive way to set up a robust, scalable and reliable backbone for establishing your own network identity system.

Schwartz said Sun already uses the system to manage access to its employee Web portal, retirement accounts and voice mail. The company is also using it to manage which buildings an employee is allowed to enter on Sun's various campuses, he said.

Future versions of the software will incorporate technology currently under development by the so-called Liberty Alliance Project, a Sun-backed coalition of companies seeking to develop and deploy an open solution for network identity. Key members of the group, formed last fall, include American Express, AOL Time Warner, France Telecom, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard Company and MasterCard International.

Sun has packaged the network identity solution in two editions. An Enterprise Edition can manage up to 10,000 online identities inside a firewall. The package includes two Sun Fire 280R UltraSparc III servers; a 72Gb Sun StorEdge D2 storage product; pre-configured software, including Solaris 8 and iPlanet Directory Server Access Management Edition 5; and 10 days of technical consulting. An Internet Edition, designed to manage as many as 250,000 online identities outside of a firewall, is similar, but comes with two additional Sun Fire 280R UltraSparc III servers and a 145Gb Sun StorEdge D2 storage product, Sun said.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at


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