Identity Management in the Grand Scheme of Things

A lot of people I listen to and read mention identity management
more than I’d expect. I hadn’t really figured out why. James
Governor (of RedMonk)
has an interesting explanation of why
identity management will become/is becoming important:

What is the Future of Software Development? Building
with Open Services and open intellectual property models.

The
final underpinning service I want to mention that will underpin all
these niches is identity. What hat are we wearing at a given time?
what niche are we in? Anonymous? Locked down identity? Am I web
searching as a flower enthusiast or to buy a new car? [there is a
great blog out there about a guy who came up with this idea and posted
it before visiting Microsoft’s research search shindig but i cant find
the darned thing]. The point is that the drive to nail down a single
canonical identity is somewhat of a chimera. Identities are only
useful in as much as they have a context. To paraphrase Wittgenstein –
[the meaning of a word is its use in the language] – The Identity of a
thing is its use in the system. We don’t fewer stronger identities we
need more ad hoc ones…

So, the idea is, that if everything is a service — and they’re all
disparate, non-centralized ones — you’ll need another service
(or data standard?) to manage the identity of all those service’s
users. Otherwise, you have the 1-off identity management that we have
on the web now-a-days. 1-off systems makes more difficult and annoying
to use a lot of collaborative features those services could have.

If each service can’t know and use the identity of a user across
all the systems it’s interacting with, the user will have difficult
time getting a “unified experience,” that is, using a bunch of
different services as a composite service, and not needing to worry
about signing in to each service as they use it.