Microsoft, HP partner on national ID systems

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) and Microsoft Corp. are working together to offer governments national identity systems built on the .Net platform.

The tech giants have been working on a code base that will allow them to offer a set of technology components for functions such as online and offline demographic and biometric data capture, regional verification and registration, and document lifecycle management.

They unveiled their plan to target worldwide governments with the technologies at an event in Geneva on Friday. HP is bringing its hardware and consulting services to the table, while Microsoft is supplying software products such as its Server 2003 Enterprise Edition and BizTalk Server 2004.

The companies are tapping partners in the security market, such as biometric technology vendors and public key infrastructure (PKI) providers, to offer specific national identity systems.

“Essentially we have an ecosystem of partners to approach governments on solutions,” said Kevin Scott, public sector director for HP in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

HP is already working with at least 33 governments in EMEA on national identity projects, Scott said. While HP has offered governments heterogeneous systems for managing identity, moving to the .Net platform has allowed it to build and integrate components very quickly, Scott said.

.Net is both a Microsoft strategy and a name for its programming support for Web services. Among other things, the HP partnership offers the software maker yet another chance to make technology inroads into the public sector market. On Thursday the company said it was teaming with security software provider Saflink Corp. to introduce a privatized version of the U.S. government’s registered traveler program using its wares.

HP also sees the public sector as a key market and expanded its consulting business to target the sector, according to Scott.

Governments are currently focused on investing in identity systems, such as national ID cards, online services for citizens and travel security programs, offering a distinct opportunity for vendors.

The identity management market is expected to grow from the current US$4.8 billion to $10.7 billion by 2007, HP said.

While the area presents much promise, creating identity management systems can be challenging, Scott noted. They often involve complicated policy and legal issues, and are complex because they affect many government agencies, he said.

HP and Microsoft said they are investing in joint training programs and specialist centers to help them build and sell the systems.

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