Monday, August 08, 2011

What is the killer app for federation?

What is the killer app for federation?
A killer application has been used to refer to any computer program that is so necessary or desirable that it proves the core value of some larger technology...A killer app can substantially increase sales of the platform on which it runs.
I don’t know the answer to this question unfortunately but I am seeking an answer. I do believe that federation is a means to an end but it is itself not the end. In other words, the benefits of federation are not sufficient to make federation itself a killer app. Is federated single sign-on (FSSO) an important benefit of federation? Of course it is. But is FSSO enough of a benefit that companies are flocking to get federation deployed? Nope. Is federation driving people to use Google, Office 365 or Nope. Again, FSSO is a nice benefit but many companies use Google or without federation enabled.

Why did companies deploy Active Directory? Why is Active Directory deployed at nearly 100% of companies? Well, it’s not because Active Directory makes managing your users easier or because it provides single sign-on. Sure, those are awesome benefits for the company but those benefits generally accrue to the IT staff – not the business, not the company. What drove the uptake of Active Directory was a simple killer app called e-mail: Microsoft Exchange. The business benefit for an enterprise e-mail system drove companies to Exchange and Exchange requires Active Directory. Exchange was the killer app that drove deployment of Active Directory.

So the IQ test question becomes: Active Directory is to Exchange as Federation is to X?

What is X?


Craig Martin said...

Not sure that is the right analogy. I agree it is all about the applications but think the sweet spot for federation is the lowering of the bar for developers when it comes to doing authentication and authorization in their apps.

Alvaro said...

X: is ActiveRoles Server.

Steve said...

F5 Blog: Strategic Trifecta: Access Management