Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University
Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University

Identity Management in SOA Environments

Identity management (IdM) deals with how users are identified and authorized across networks. Establishing an IdM strategy within a single entity is straightforward. However, implementing it in a service-oriented architecture (SOA) environment presents unique challenges. Some of the challenges we see for IdM in SOA environments are

  • establishing trust between identity providers
  • providing identity token translation services
  • synchronizing identity information across identity providers
  • agreeing with federation partners on data ownership issues
  • minimizing risk and financial implications, especially when governance is not well understood and enforced
  • ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements, especially across jurisdictional boundaries
  • preventing privacy violations, where too much data about an individual or organization might be visible due to federation
  • agreeing on governance policies and enforcement

Our initial thinking on IdM for SOA environments is described in a paper entitled Identity Management and its Impact on Federation in a System-of-Systems Context.

We are gaining insight as we work on IdM issues in tactical networks that operate in SOA environments. U .S. Department of Defense (DoD) organizations rely on tactical networks to increase situational awareness, support better command decisions, and allow for faster targeting. The importance of tactical networks is underscored by spending levels for tactical communications estimated to reach $5.68 billion by 2010, according to a new analysis from analysis firm Frost & Sullivan's Aerospace and Defense Group (in U.S. Tactical Military Communications Markets, available from

In order to achieve required levels of security and performance, the DoD must develop a viable strategy for IdM for these tactical networks. Our approach for IdM for tactical networks in SOA environments is to

  • identify and analyze IdM scenarios, architectures, and the implications of SOA in tactical airborne networks
  • develop and analyze a prototype IdM architecture

We have put into place plans for the first element in that approach—the analysis of identity management in conjunction with a pilot Air Force effort.