How many of you think that Federation is still merely a "business-to-business" proposition?
Last week, I hosted a Webinar entitled "Harnessing the Power of Online Communities" that hinged on that question. The archive is available, but here is a teaser.
As companies lose the network perimeter as a simple wrapper to dictate the limits of their "business," a new paradigm has evolved into an architectural reality: Businesses are now able to federate to and from Cloud platforms as well as to and from individual businesses.
On the surface, the multi-tenant Cloud model seems to just shift the trust relationship to a new transitively trusted entity, but when you look more closely, whole new business models become possible. Cloud platforms have a brand new power that has not yet been capitalized upon - the power to stand as a trusted authority for individuals, as well as businesses.
Your business can now leverage a federated model to interact with customers through the social networks they use every day, and do so with more convenience than before!
It isn't often you see an option to create a deeper relationship with less work for the customer. Use of federation through social networks opens brand new avenues of communication with customers, as well as giving businesses access to a depth of identity information that no registration form would ever cover.
That isn't all, however. There are also whole applications, now moving to the cloud, that are full of user information that previously had to be collected, stored, and managed inside the enterprise.
Platforms such as Salesforce.com now offer portal services to ease the burden of managing partners and suppliers. In taking the burden of registration/onboarding, password management, and profile management away from the enterprise, these platforms also move the authoritative source for the user community to the cloud. The ripple effects need to be examined - how does this move affect workflows? Provisioning tasks? Access to related resources that are still in-house? Audit requirements?
Use of federated access for portals such as a Salesforce Partner Portal can help to answer some of these questions.
The case I'm hopefully making is that you need to be examining the possible strategic value of online communities in your own enterprise.
Go to the archive to hear more (sorry it's not live and you won't be able to heckle, that's half the fun :) )