OpenID and your digital identity

I'm convinced that digital identity and universal authentication systems will make it big on the IT radar scope for 2007. While a number of propriety systems have cropped up over the years, the open-source project OpenID has started to make headlines as it tackles the problems and solutions for digital identity.

OpenID is an open, decentralized, free framework for user-centric digital identity.

OpenID starts with the concept that anyone can identify themselves on the Internet the same way websites do-with a URI (also called a URL or web address). Since URIs are at the very core of Web architecture, they provide a solid foundation for user-centric identity.

I was first introduced to OpenID through the blogs of Scott Kveton. In one of Mr. Kveton's recent posts he talks about open source projects using plug-ins and modules for converting their content management system (CMS) over to OpenID. More specifically, he discusses the use of a Drupal module for adding OpenID support in his post, Converting your site to OpenID.

If you currently run a site with a large number of users and are looking at adopting OpenID you have a few things you need to consider. I’ve been talking with Larry HalffMa.gnolia (which kicks ass btw) and they are looking at adopting OpenID. Larry has quite a few users and so he had to take those folks into account before implementing OpenID. from the social bookmarking site

What we have seen with the open source projects that are adopting OpenID is to simply tie it to an actual account within the system. For example, the Drupal plugin does this. This is the easiest mechanism since you can then tie the OpenID to attributes that you need specifically for your application.

Regular readers of my blog know that I have a little obsession with the Drupal CMS and probably are not surprised that I singled out another post about Drupal. However, I'd like to point out that Scott Kveton is from the Mozilla crowd (the folks that gave us Firefox) and not the Drupal crowd. In fact his personal site doesn't even use Drupal but proudly uses the blogging application Wordpress. My point is simply that no matter what CMS you are using today, digital identity is going to be a hot topic for 2007.

If your CMS hasn't started to look into OpenID perhaps it's time you and the project's leaders start taking a look. In my opinion, the time for deciding how best to authenticate your online users from one online application to the next application has arrived.