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Exploring the science and magic of Identity and Access Management
Thursday, July 28, 2016

User Attributes – Part of Identity?

Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, October 8, 2011
7:59 am

I recently participated in an Identity and Access Management architecture session where I was asked a direct question, “Do you consider user attributes not stored in the main directory a part of user Identity?”  When I said yes, a few people seemed somewhat perplexed.  Please let me explain my point of view.

I think there is a propensity to think that “Identity attributes”  are strictly limited to those stored in a directory user object.  That focus is too narrow.  While it may be that the “Identity Management System” only knows about those attributes, the sum total of real Identity information can be much broader.  This broader view of Identity is essential if we hope to leverage Identity Management to enable innovative business models.

For example, if I am an online vendor hoping to leverage user Identities to provide a highly personalized user experience for my customers, I must not rely only on the user object in the authentication directory.  A more rich set of Identity data comprising history, preferences and real-time context must be considered. This information may reside in multiple repositories.

Just my thoughts.  What do you think?




The Dreaded Exclamation Point!!!

Humor, Social Media
Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, October 8, 2011
7:27 am

Do you suffer from the malady of Exclamation Point Excess in social media?  I do!  But  I had never realized the effect of it all on Eddie the Exclamation Point, until today …


Remembering Steve Jobs

Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, October 8, 2011
7:12 am

I was honored to meet and work with Steve Jobs in 1984 as I led a project to enhance the capabilities of the information systems powering the new Macintosh factory in Fremont, California. I was but a small star in Steve’s large universe, but it was a privilege to see first hand bits and pieces of his genius that would make a profound impact on my life. It was only fitting that my iPhone, a brilliant example of his bold creativity and attention to product excellence, would deliver a news alert about his passing Wednesday afternoon.

In our home, I counted one old Apple II (a part of my personal computer museum), three Macintosh computers, one iPhone, one iPad, a whole raft of iPods, and several Pixar movies as tangible examples of his affect on our lives. Yes, we directly benefited from Steve’s genius.

As I pondered his death and considered my own mortality (I am two years older than he), I was impressed by Steve’s insight that he shared in his famous Stanford commencement address:

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

“To Follow Your Heart” is great advice, but not always easy to follow.  I have found myself deeply reflecting on that advice during the past few days.  In the things which matter most – family and faith – I have followed my heart and have been blessed beyond measure.  But I must admit that professionally, I wonder.  Am I really engaged in the right things which will deliver the most value to my fellow beings and bring the most joy? Should I soldier on, or make significant changes?  What does my heart really say?

Thank you, Steve, for sharing your world-changing genius with all of us.   And thank you for triggering the deep introspection of the past few days.  May you rest in peace.

And than you, Jonathan Mak, for your inspiring logo tribute to Steve.


Identities of People: Meet Identities of Things

Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, October 8, 2011
6:41 am

Having a deep fascination with The Internet of Things, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Phil Windley’s recent post, “Personal Event Networks: Building the Internet of Things,” and Drummond Reed’s commentary, “Phil Windley on Personal Event Networks.”

Phil concludes in his post, “An Internet of Things—social products and services—will have as profound an effect on our lives as the changes of the preceding 15 years. I believe that personalized event-driven programming models are a key part of the architecture that makes them real.”

In his post, Drummond states, “Many things become possible if your personal network of devices, products, and services can safely talk to each other in ways they can all understand. That’s what Phil is promoting through a simple event interface.”

It occurred to me that Identity is a key enabler – the Identities of People meeting the Identities of Things.  What transpires will be meaningful relationships between people and the things which provide services to them.  I like to think I already have meaningful relationships with things like my refrigerator and my car (I’m weird that way), but think such relationships can be significantly enhanced as the Internet of Things evolves.

I applaud the pioneering work of Drummond and Phil and others like them, who are working to bring about meaningful reality to these fascinating concepts.



Facebook’s Vocabulary Contribution

Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, October 8, 2011
6:14 am

Is this Facebook’s greatest contribution – a fundamental enhancement to our common vocabulary?

Thanks, BC, for pointing this out!


Conference Rooms and Company Culture

Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, October 8, 2011
6:06 am

Have you ever noticed how a company’s conference room naming convention reveals much about their company culture?  I have recently attended customer meetings in conference rooms “F” and “30.” How’s that for old school drabness?  In stark contrast were “Nazareth” and “KillZone,” offering conference room tribute to Jesus’ boyhood home and a popular video game, respectively.

I suppose that innovation and business success may have little to do with how conference rooms are named, but I prefer the stimulating names.


IAM Best Practices – Prescriptions for Success?

Author: Mark Dixon
Saturday, October 8, 2011
5:49 am

What are the most frequent requests I hear from Identity and Access Management customers?  “How can I use this stuff most effectively?”  “What are the best practices?”

Features and functions, speeds and feeds are not front and center in the dialog.  The main topic of conversation tends to revolve around the best practices for using IAM to business advantage.  What have we collectively learned that will make success easier to achieve and more predictable?

In the maturing IAM industry, we have made great strides in learning how to install and configure IAM technology.  Many companies have learned how to derive business value from IAM.  Unfortunately, we haven’t done a good job of consistently documenting and sharing the experiences we have all gained in making it all really work. We have not consistently distilled experience gained into prescriptive recipes for success.  Customer success stories provide good anecdotal evidence, but fall short of being prescriptions for success.  We have precious few white papers that focus on how to make things work, rather than on extolling features and functions.

It would be an interesting exercise to interview a wide range of companies that have implemented IAM, derive from that body of collective knowledge what really works and what doesn’t, and present that information in a set of best practices that can help others succeed.  Book idea? We’ll see.


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