Thursday, December 13, 2007

Tools are just tools, you know

I've always been impressed by Pamela Dingle's ability to cut through the rhetoric and get to the heart of a problem. She's done it again.

Patrick Harding, Nishant Kaushik, Johannes Ernst and Matt Flynn recently participated in an impassioned (if not actually heated) discussion of User-Centric identity in the enterprise. Pamela chimed in with her usual level-headed approach.

Then, after the guys debated philosophy, Pamela - once again - reminded them that using the tools of so-called "user centric" identity (CardSpace and OpenID, for example) doesn't require buying into any sort of philosophy of data control. They're simply tools. As she put it: "If you try to tell me that using a tool such as the Identity Metasystem to accomplish something other than a user-centric philosophy is wrong, I will also laugh at you."

As I said last spring, "I’m addressing the enterprise market, which needs to pay attention to CardSpace right now." CardSpace and the identity metasystem - whether all Microsoft or using open source tools - can be a very useful tool in the enterprise, especially in an enterprise which uses a lot of home-grown applications and services. Not only for authentication (and the simplified signon possibilities), but also for authorization, role management and fine-grained entitlement control.

Tools are just tools. Use the tool that does what you want at the price you're willing to pay and let others worry about the philosophical implications.


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