Catalyst 2006 Roundup

Well, Burton Group's Catalyst conference is done for another year. I rarely get a chance to geek out in this tiny little niche — but at Catalyst, everybody thinks that way! It has been my favorite conference for a long time, and as usual, I'm now suffering from the post-Catalyst blues :-)

My own personal highlights were:

  • A little more information on Higgins. Um, not that I'm still particularly clear on what it is or how it works.

When it was first announced, I thought it was merely a bunch of APIs, since what I'd originally heard about it was that it was going to plug into Eclipse and abstract identity for developers. Then I saw an architecture diagram where none of the communication was defined (other than the presence of communication) but all sorts of services & engines were defined, some of them apparently donated from Novell. My thought is that is is a little eeny weenie bit more than a framework – this is a full-blown software product with a bunch of written pieces that may happen to allow other services to plug in.

Either way, I am inspired to figure out how the heck the thing works – when I know, I will let you all know too.

  • Lori Rowland on Provisioning

Finally, someone willing to set the record straight. If you are a Burton customer and you can get her paper on the subject, I definitely recommend it. She told the straight up truth – that provisioning is hard work, and will either fail or become very expensive unless a LOT of preparation is undertaken ahead of time. She also reminded people that in most cases, it isn't the technology that causes the projects to fail, but failure to properly limit scope and map business process. I couldn't agree more.

  • Federated Karaoke

This group will live on forever, at least in a few people's memory :-) I'm ready to start campaigning for Burton to let them kick off the conference next year in style!

  • Hanging out with the Burton Folks

They work their butts off all day and party all night. Hats off to the dedication that it takes to squeeze everything they can out of a single week.

  • Ping's work with Infocards

I've been looking forward to this for quite some time: Ashish Jain has been working tirelessly on his Java-based Identity Provider. As far as I know, he is the closest of anyone to actually having implemented a managed infocard scenario. Ping already has their products working as a Relying Party with self-issued infocards, where you can authenticate once with an infocard and then gain SSO access to everything via PingFederate. Personally, I think that this model will be exceptionally popular in the Enterprise, and was part of the 'ultimate corporate model' I talked about at DEC. It was really great to talk to Ashish and see what he's done over the last few months.

  • William Hung onstage

Much to my surprise, the man had a good-natured way about him that was very endearing, and although I couldn't help being horrified, I was also genuinely entertained.

  • Surveying all the stack-oriented Identity vendors for adherence to the 'Megacorp Law of Naming' at the nightly hospitality suites

It holds. HP is one of the only exceptions I found – their products are called "Identity Select", "Access Select", etc.

I asked one of the guys at the RSA booth why they just changed their product name from ClearTrust to "RSA Access Manager", and he said that now everybody knows what it does.

I suppose he's right. Thank heavens our industry has wiped out the onerous duty of having to actually know or understand anything at all about any of these individual products! They are all nicely slotted into their pigeonholes now, phew, one less ambiguous thing to keep me up at night…

  • Getting an ID-WSF demo

One day I'm going to have the time to set this up for myself, so I can really figure it out…. I would love to see some architectural diagrams for a running implementation.

  • Provisioning Appliances?

Could it be made so simple? Is it possible? If so, These guys are gonna make a gzillion…

  • Pomegranate Martinis

Need I say more?

(drawn on the paper table cover at Scala's restaurant…)

world of unshelved

3 thoughts on “Catalyst 2006 Roundup

  1. And I didn't even get to say hi – but you were always surrounded by gawpers, it seems. :)


    Pam says: Yes, it always seemed like we never got quite close enough to say hi – but at least we can now, heheheh… it would have been lovely to catch up, I will make sure to do so next time we're in the same general vicinity!

  2. Sorry I missed some of the aforementioned party opportunities, but I am sure I don’t miss the Pomegranate martinis.

    I completely agree with your opinion on Lori Rowland’s presentation. We are planning a follow up discussion.

    As for Higgins, I am seeing a kind of “worldly, multi-lingual” virtual directory. It is the framework for the identity service I think we need to start thinking about in place of the enterprise directory.


  3. Mike:

    That’s the coolest description I’ve heard yet! I can’t wait to see what you envision, it could be very exciting!



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