NetPro’s DEC, Hot Chicken, Information Cards, and Bandit

A few months ago the Bandit team showed an open source identity selector at Novell’s Brainshare conference.

I wrote about the demo then, and so did many others, but Gil Kirkpatrick‘s blog post about it really caught my attention. It was significant in many ways. He had not actually seen the demo, just read and heard about it from others, yet his comments were particularly insightful. He really got the important points of what was shown. As his comments about me also show, some of us have been working in the Directory Services and Identity Management space for a LONG time. And times are changing again in the identity services world. There are some new possibilities now. My perspective is that this has a lot to do with a clear movement away from an enterprise and vendor specific focus, towards more of an emphasis on integrating business with the general Internet, and therefore interoperable identity services. Gil’s comment seemed to me to reflect this perspective — he was excited about the possibilities for general use of an open source selector. He even mentioned perhaps giving news from my employer a fresh hearing (I appreciate that)!

So I contacted Gil, and we decided to renew our aquaintence at NetPro’s Directory Experts Conference.

I wanted to attend DEC for many reasons. For years I had heard that it was a great conference. My background is in directory services and I knew this was a serious conference for the same types of troubled souls as me. I also knew that Kim Cameron, Stuart Kwan, and Pamela Dingle would all be there and giving talks about information cards to the Active Directory Faithful — THAT sounded entertaining. And it was in Las Vegas which is about a 6 hours aways by car, so it sounded like a a great excuse for a road trip.

hot chicken relaxingAll very good reasons, but the reason I was particularly interested in attending DEC was a chance to help with an identity system used at the conference and get almost-real-world deployment experience for Bandit and Higgins components. The conference identity system in question involved information cards, embarassing photographs, and a large poultry impersonator. After all, it was in Las Vegas.

The DEC hot chicken contest, as well as it’s usage of Bandit and Higgins components, was put together by the Pamela Project. The system involved getting conference members to either avoid embarassment or win a zune by accessing a web site with an information card. I think there was some reference to a carrot and stick, but when there’s a huge chicken walking around I’m not sure whether the reference was literal or figurative. The best writeup of the overall system and it’s results is from Pamela herself, here.

The Pamela Project Cards site allows anyone to create an account and generate a managed information card so that they can gain access to the Hot Chicken site. I got to help set it up and even wrote some actual code. It was great fun, and very useful; I gathered a lot of very good input about how to improve our identity provider package in the future.

I would like to emphasize that the Pamela Project’s “Cards” Identity Provider was built from completely open source software. It included components from many projects, but the most notable to me are the Higgins STS, Bandit management, authorization and audit code, all on an Ubuntu LAMP system.

The conference itself was well run, with great sessions, great food and a positive environment for conversation and collaboration. A great time was had by all, I’m sure, and certainly pointedly educational for me. Many thanks to Gil and Pam.

Oddly enough, the very next week my friend and coleader of the Bandit team, Pat Felsted, also took a road trip to attend yet another conference in Las Vegas. His description of the experience is here.

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