I made an early start to get to Microsoft at Thames Valley Park, Reading, to be filmed by GBTV ( a web TV company talking about identity management using Microsoft CardSpace.
I believe that an industry wide solution for federated identity management, which allows the consumer control over his or her identity (or identities) – rather than a proprietary or sector (e.g. Government) specific approach – is vital to promote confidence and usability. However, sector specific services – such as the Government Gateway - to aggregate information to enable authentication of identified consumers to specific services - then seem to make sense.
The Producer was a little alarmed, when we were chatting about the technology, ahead of the interview, when he realised that I was still forming views about how the system of trust in identity management and authentication of service entitlements should work. I think this is because we (Government) haven't clearly defined what we mean by terms such as "identity", "verification" and "authentication".
It seems to me that they are often used as if they are interchangeable and, even if that is not the case, we cannot be sure about what meanings different individuals ascribe to the terms.
When I got back to the office, there was an e-mail from the Cabinet Office about the next meeting of the Employee Authentication Working Group (of the Public Sector Infrastructure Team). I replied with my availability, and entered a plea for us to produce a glossary of terms used in connection with identity management and authentication…
In the afternoon, I met with members of the HP account team for our quarterly review. This was an important meeting from a number of standpoints. The most important is to urgently decide on the configuration of hardware and software for our relocation to the new corporate back office, but I also wanted to review the value proposition of our "Per Seat" infrastructure pricing model through the HP partnership in the light of the recent enthusiasm, from some quarters, for e-Auctions.
I'm convinced that using e-Auctions for the procurement of computers is short-sighted and risks inflating costs, rather than reducing them, but we need to demonstrate to Newham stakeholders why that is the case.
I think this is also quite closely linked to the overly simplistic approach to benchmarking, which focuses on work-station purchase costs, rather than total costs of ownership, being promoted by the Audit Commission.
As a SOCITM Vice President, I am also concerned about the danger of misleading the Government IT profession, and feel I have a responsibility to promote debate on the subject. I'm therefore planning an article on the subject for the public sector and IT industry media.
Thirdly, we need to consider how to fine tune the partnership to address the problems that are now, with the benefit of hindsight, obvious. For example, the compatibility problems that have developed as a consequence of our approach to infrastructure refresh and technology migration, and the fact that we have been buying 32 bit servers, although Exchange 2007, which we will want to deploy in the near future, requires 64 bit servers.
Finally, I require HP's help with the updated three year strategy that I'm working on, and that has to be completed by December, addressing technologies such as virtualisation and Software-As-A-Service.