Open Source Identity Ecosystem Idea

A significant part of open source software is developed by small independent companies. Such companies have small and highly motivated teams that are incredibly efficient. The resulting software is often much better than comparable software created by big software vendors. Especially in the Identity and Access Management (IAM) field there are open source products that are much better than the average commercial equivalent. And the open source products are much more cost efficient! This is exactly what the troubled IAM field needs as the closed-source IAM deployment projects struggle for better solution quality and (much) lower cost.

It is obvious that small independent open source companies can deliver great software. But the usual problem is that such software created by a small company is a “point solution”. Such product is a remarkable tool to solve very specific set of problems. But no small company really provides a complete solution. Every engineer knows what it takes to integrate products from several companies. It is no easy task. So, this was an obstacle for the open source IAM technologies to reach the full potential. But this obstacle is a thing of the past. It does not exist anymore.

Several open source IAM vendors joined together in an unique cooperative group which has a working name “Open Source Identity Ecosystem“. This includes companies such asEvolveum, Symas and Tirasa. The ecosystem members agreed to support each other during activities that involve product integration. The primary goal of the ecosystem activity is to create and maintain a complete IAM solution (or rather a set of solutions) that will match and surpass all the closed source IAM solution stacks.

The ecosystem is much more than yet another technology stack. The ecosystem is a completely revolutionary concept.

A stack is usually simple set of products piled on top of each and roughly integrated together. E.g. if a customer needs identity management component from the stack, he usually has only one option. The freedom of choice is severely limited. This leads to vendor lock-in, lack of flexibility and a very high cost.

But ecosystem is different. The ecosystem adds a whole new dimension. There are several options for each component. E.g. If a customer needs an identity management component from an ecosystem, there are several options to choose from: Apache Syncope supported by Tirasa and midPoint supported by Evolveum. There is no vendor lock-in. If one of them fails to meet the expectations, there is always a second choice. Evolveum and Tirasa are competing companies, yet they have agreed on a common set of interfaces to make crucial parts of their products interoperable. Therefore, both products can seamlessly live in the same ecosystem. But the internal competition still keeps the incentive for both products to evolve and improve. This concept provides a completely new experience and freedom for the customers. It also brings enormous number of new opportunities to system integrators, value-added partners, OEM-like vendors and so on.

The ecosystem is completely open. If you like this idea you can join the ecosystem. This can be especially attractive for companies that maintain open source projects in the IAM field. But also open-source-friendly system integrators and service providers are more than welcome. Please see the discussion in the ecosystem mailing list for more details.

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