"Sun Microsystems (NASDAQ:SUNW)
and 32 well-known, industry-leading companies raised their standard
Wednesday in what is rapidly shaping up to be the Internet's newest
battle ground: authentication systems.
The most noted industry leader that was excluded from the new
consortium, though, was Microsoft Corp., (NASDAQ:MSFT)
which last week fired the first salvo when it put out a call for a
"federated" authentication system -- one in which competitors are
allowed to license Microsoft's Passport system for their own
The strategic importance of authentication systems has evolved
alongside an increasing focus on Web services, a model which Burton
Group analyst Gary Hein calls "the latest -- and most credible --
effort to define a workable distributed computing framework for the
Internet, one that supports inter-enterprise communication and
interoperability among applications."
Microsoft, according to Burton, is "betting the company" on the
importance of that model with its .NET initiative. But Microsoft is
not the only one to recognize the import of the model, and
unwilling to let Microsoft make its authentication system become
the defacto standard that makes Web services feasible, Sun and its
compatriots Wednesday formed the Liberty Alliance Project to
develop and deploy an open solution."