... from the desk of Roger Sullivan

Friday, July 28, 2006

A view from Piscataway

Q: Where is Piscataway and why on Earth would anyone be there?

Ans: Mid-New Jersey; and, Participating in the Liberty Alliance Interoperability testing event.

Actually, Piscataway is also headquarters for the IEEE and sits on a beautiful campus not far from Rutgers University and New Brunswick, NJ. Lots of very nice restaurants and a city strongly influenced by the large collegiate population, not unlike Austin, TX.

As one walks the halls of the IEEE, one cannot help but be awed by the great scientific minds that have been contributing members of the IEEE through its history. One is humbled by their accomplishments, yet at the same time proud of the implicit scientific lineage and credentials with which we are (virtually) rubbing shoulders – or laptops as the case might be. What would Mr. Edison have thought of them?

In a curious twist of fate, I discovered that one of the early headquarters of the IEEE was at 71 Broadway, NY in Lower Manhattan. As it happens, that was my apartment building for the three years that I spent with Phaos Technology, where my own adventure in Identity Management really began. I commuted from Boston to NYC each week from 2002-2005 and enjoyed calling Lower Manhattan my second home.

But, getting back to the point, IEEE-ISTO, as the Secretariat for the Liberty Alliance, is the venue for this interoperability test event primarily because we’ve had great logistical experiences the last several times that Liberty Alliance has held the event here. The support staff is great to work with and the facilities are conducive to a productive and confidential testing environmnet.

Regarding the event, I am continually impressed by the professionalism of the testing participants. The pressure to perform is, as one would imagine, quite intense. The participating vendors are all striving to achieve the right to brand their products with the Liberty Interoperable Logo™. Even though the pressure is acute, the participants work together cooperatively as a team while they are participating. They will all compete fiercely for business in the open market. However, I have always observed a truly collaborative attitude during these events where all are working toward the greater good of the industry.

As Liberty Alliance has developed the program over the past several years, we have striven to continue to “raise the bar,” requiring ever more thorough testing of submitted products. As a result, the tests are more stringent, customers increasingly appreciate the brand, and the program administrators work hard to keep improving.

Why is this important? Because customers who are deploying these products need to know that, when put into production, they will function with each other properly – per the specifications. Liberty Alliance takes this responsibility seriously and strives, in turn, to assure a high-quality event, professionally conducted, and one with which the Alliance is proud to associate its name.

The results of this particular event will be publicized in due course, once the results are vetted, the slate of candidates are recommended to the Liberty Alliance Management Board, and the Board formally approves the recommendations. (So, no sneak-peaks here, folks!) But stay tuned, there’s more to come.

Perhaps it is also a curious and not-so-coincidental twist of fate that the event is here. Here, great scientific work has its home at IEEE Headquarters, in a college town that exemplifies “collegiality,” and with participants all doing their best to interoperate together to produce Identity Management technologies. These products will continue to advance the quality of our lives in the same way that so many other IEEE inventors have done before.


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