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Sun's iPlanet Takes Aim At Microsoft's Passport

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Positioning its existing software toolkit as potential competition to Microsoft's emerging Passport authentication/e-commerce service, Sun Microsystems has released a new version of iPlanet Directory Server designed to let companies centrally manage user identity and entitlement, and share this information across multiple applications on an e-business web site or portal.

This new version, Access Management Edition 5.0, is built around Sun's existing iPlanet Directory Server.

The main point to this version is that it will serve as the basis for a technological alternative to Microsoft's Passport service, which is built into Windows XP. Passport is a service that allows users to sign into any number of ecommerce sites using a single login tool that can span PCs and devices. Sun is a leader in the Liberty Alliance Project, a consortium of computer companies and financial firms creating an alternative to Microsoft Passport.

One of the criticisms of the Liberty Alliance is that it lacks any tangible tools to compete with Microsoft's existing authentication tools; the release of iPlanet Directory Server, Access Management Edition 5.0, addresses that issue.

"The ability of companies to understand and manage the identity of their user communities will be one of the single most important success metrics of the next decade," said Stuart Wells, senior vice president of iPlanet Product Development at Sun Microsystems, in a press release. "The open standards, multi-platform support and massive-scalability inherent in the iPlanet Product Line make it the natural choice as a foundation for open, federated identity across the Internet."

Sun says that 650 million licenses of iPlanet Directory Server have been sold to date, and that the product is already in use in some of the largest e-commerce, enterprise, and consumer web sites and portals.

iPlanet Directory Server, Access Management Edition 5.0 has been released to manufacturing and will be available to customers later this month. In addition to all of the features in the core iPlanet Directory Server product, the new Access Management Edition includes:

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