Thoughts on 10 Years of Centrify

As Centrify approaches its ten year anniversary it’s interesting to look at what things have changed in those years. The big shift of course is from (what is now called) on-prem to cloud. That change also led to repurposing of some things.

SAML was originally intended as a way of enabling several sets of users to access a single resource. For example two businesses needing to co-operate on a joint project, universities wanting to enable secure access to shared web sites, etc. (aka federation). SAML now mainly used for SAAS applications. These are not federated in the normal sense – they are being accessed by one set of users – but instead SAML is being uses as a mechanism for the SAAS service to trust users coming from customer identity providers (shameless plug for our IDP).

It’s also interesting to look at what happened to XML. XML started as a simple way of doing things on the internet driven by ASCII text (as opposed to BER encoded ASN things). People got into it in a big way; XMLRPCSOAP,… Then big companies and standards bodies got into. Soon you had schemas and namespaces and WS-* and stuff. And while standards are good (of course) the basic simplicity was lost. So now we have JSON instead of XML and we have JWT tokens instead of SAML tokens. I wonder if 10 years from now JSON will have been schema’d to death and we will have something else.

And of course mobile. Ten years ago there was one platform used for accessing your company network – Windows (XP !). or, if you were a little funky, a Mac. Now – well I dont need to say. One intersting things is the shift for developers; 10 years ago you wrote for Windows (unless it was a video or photo app). Now, like it was in the original personal computer days (atari, TRS80,…) you have to choose: Android, ios , Mac, windows, windows 8, …. Deja vu all over again.