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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Non-Hierarchical Identity

Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, June 3, 2006
5:54 am

Phil Becker of Digital ID World explores the transition from of thinking of Identity as a hierarchical concept to realizing that Identity within an Enterprise is far from hierarchical.

“In the early 1990’s …the concept that identity was hierarchical was built into its core [network directory]. As long as the scale was relatively small, and what was being managed could be crammed into a single domain, this appeared to work well.”

“… problems arose because enterprise organization isn’t actually hierarchical. And it gets less so with every move towards outsourcing, contract labor, and business partnerships – the very moves toward networking business itself that are creating business advantage today.”

“Thankfully today new technology such as virtual directories, far more flexible meta-directories, and identity federation have arisen and matured so that enterprise identity can now be designed with these hierarchical directories restricted to reasonable domains. Those directories can then become nodes within a networked identity infrastructure that allows abstraction away from the strict hierarchical nature of the directory.”

Phil goes on to point out that correctly modeling Identity as a multi-dimensional concept will result in lower cost, more effective implementations — results that all enterprises would enjoy.

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