The specification for a network identity system to rival Microsoft's Passport will be unveiled today by the Liberty Alliance, with backing from a number of industry giants.
The details for a standard specification for a single-sign-on authentication system will be unveiled in San Francisco by chairman of the Liberty Alliance Eric Dean, who is also chief information officer of United Airlines.
He will tell delegates at the conference of analyst firm Burton Group how the technology will benefit customers and industry.
Internet single-sign-on will allow users to log in once and be authenticated to a series of services across different websites and services provided by different businesses.
The work from the Liberty Alliance is expected to feature in Sun's Open Net Environment (Sun ONE) software within weeks. The first releases are thought to be Sun's directory server software.
The Liberty Alliance was established last September to develop a single sign-on, decentralised authentication and authorisation from any device connected to the internet.
Members of the alliance include technology firms such as Sun Microsystems, Hewlett Packard and Vodafone, as well as businesses outside of IT including American Express and United Airlines.
Liberty Alliance's technology will rival similar technology from Microsoft. Its supporters claim that unlike Microsoft's Passport single-sign-on technology, the Liberty Alliance's technology is based on open standards.
Delegates at the conference will also hear from Burton Group research director, Dan Blum, that ebusiness demands have dramatically escalated business requirements for digital identity across enterprises.
But industry watchers have long warned of the need for interoperability between authentication systems.
A single, secure, transferable network identity was "desperately needed", said Tim Jennings, research production director at analyst firm Butler Group. "I can't see the next generation of web-based commerce taking off without it," he said.
But it remains unclear at this stage whether Microsoft will either join the Liberty Alliance or support the standard it develops. It is thought that Microsoft will resist joining an organisation that it sees as dominated by Sun.
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