I spent the last years working on IT services to improve higher education: video infrastructures, collaboration tools, digital assessments and digital learning. Coming back to visit the middleware/identity world after  five years away is interesting.

Some of the trends that keep pushing the identity field if I compare with 2012:

  • Virtual, not physical: servers are virtualized and roam around in data centers, people have multiple devices and require virtual identities that roam across devices, the borders are more fuzzy between hardware and software in SDN or IoT or apps
  • Multiple devices per person: a smart phone, a tablet and a PC/Mac is not unusual; not to mention the IoT and hordes of sensors
  • From silos to microservices and APIs: modular approaches require more traffic between components, moving some complexity out of silos; outsourcing services internally in the applications is more comme il faut, apps should be lightweight. This trend moves one of the important scaling factors for identity solutions, we no longer scale to a few thousand services, but scaling needs to be for a few million services.
  • Identity for things: Internet of Things requires identity, or binding information to identity, thus introducing large scale device identity requirements
  • Data centric identity: when we move from application centric to data centric, identity requirements morph from being used to secure application access to verifying relationships between users and data.
  • Cloud based identity: the closed gardens of the big cloud infrastructures have their own identity infrastructures (Apple-ID, Google, Facebook, AzureID/LinkedIn/Outlook.com), and these user centric approaches provide some interaction mechanisms for organization centric solutions.

These are some of the changes I see, but I will spend the next months looking around the field of identity and integration,  trying to figure out what a research network needs to provide for its customers.