Applications and Use Cases

Addressing Big Data Identity, Windmill Gives Cognida Blockchain Database to FreeIPA

August 01, 2018
By Special Guest
Shrey Fadia, Special Correspondent -

Identity Management (IM) is a vast and growing science and artform, with demand surging as data growth continues, and one company believes blockchain may be the best way to secure the integrity of data in the enterprise and between enterprises as we accelerate towards the Extabyte era.

Worldwide Big Data market revenues for software and services are projected to increase from $42B in 2018 to $103B in 2027, attaining a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.48% according to Wikibon.

Forrester’s estimates are in the same ballpark, predicting the global Big Data software market will be worth $31B this year, growing 14% from the previous year.

According to an Accenture study, 79% of enterprise executives agree that companies that do not embrace Big Data will lose their competitive position and could face extinction, while 83%, have pursued Big Data projects to protect their franchises as digital transformation is no longer an option.

Growth in data is driving massive interest in IM as solutions mature, and one of the hidden gems within the IM development world is the FreeIPA project, which while not as self-promotional as some open source communities, has been evolving IM for years with contributions from developers.

Today, Windmill Enterprise, developer of the Cognida Network and platform, announced they have contributed a back-end database supporting blockchains of all types, to the FreeIPA community, and by extension to RedHat, whose own IM product (IdM) is in large part powered by FreeIPA.

Windmill is incorporating FreeIPA into its blockchain agnostic Cognida Platform makes FreeIPA services available to decentralized and distributed services and network connected digital assets. This extends and strengthens FreeIPA’s current abilities to solve key security challenges facing the enterprise. Windmill is contributing the back-end database into FreeIPA.”

Having woken up to the need for IM across all their data, enterprises have closed vendor solutions in place, and are exploring their options as the costs for these solutions continues to skyrocket in large part based on data growth.

Gartner, for example, covers IM solutions from Okta, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, CA Technologies, Ping Identity and another ten or so companies, and IDC forecasts the worldwide identity and access market to increase to $7.4 billion in 2019. Revenues in 2014 were just $4.8 billion. Pete Lindstrom, IDC research director for IAM, says the “market drivers include the convergence of mobility, social networking, big data analytics and an increasing demand for Cloud and SaaS delivery of traditional IT software and services.”

In the growing Linux world, there are thousands of deployments of Red Hat supported projects (using FreeIPA) and co-founder and CEO of Windmill Enterprise, Michael Hathaway, envisions even more growth of more open IM solutions when they are combined with a backend database.

“ One of the challenges enterprises have securing their computing environments is the increasing diversity of technologies used for identity, authentication, and authorization configuration across users, infrastructures, systems, services and applications,” said Jon Saperia, retired Enterprise Architect for Harvard University,  “They are often spread across on-premise, cloud, SaaS and other environments. Integration of FreeIPA into the Cognida platform helps integrate critical technologies into a coherent system while at the same time increasing the security of the sensitive information through the use of blockchain technology.”

“We’re thrilled to be contributing to the FreeIPA project,” said Michael Hathaway, Co-Founder and CEO of Windmill Enterprise. “The FreeIPA integrates a full suite of, mature enterprise identity management and access control services into a single open source distribution.  With the incorporation of Cognida’s security offload technology and integration of its blockchain agnostic capabilities into FreeIPA, enterprise administrators can use familiar and mature security tools to address challenges in an increasingly complex and distributed security landscape.”

Windmill’s contributions to FreeIPA began in January of 2018.  Windmill is actively contributing to the FreeIPA project with enhancements, bug fixes. In addition, Windmill is incorporating blockchain back end databases into FreeIPA services where identities and access control policies are stored, enabling multiple instances of FreeIPA to be deployed across the network that share a secure blockchain database. 

Part of what a blockchain database can to do enhance IM is in responding to increasingly strong regulations in different industry verticals. For example, as Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) and other health data continues to explode, there is simply more data which needs to be governed and doing so with centralized and disparate systems is a nightmare; decentralization using blockchain as the ledger may be the answer.

In the government vertical, new policies including two-factor-authentication (2FA) using CAC and PIV smart cards is strengthening compliance, while also raising exponentially the number of transactions between users and data, and data systems with each other.

Another trend putting pressure on IT teams responsible for protecting corporate data and assets is the transition from public to private to hybrid and now multicloud. A decentralized IM system, supported with blockchain, will enable a more efficient orchestration of clouds, SaaS service, as well as the growing world of containers which require container management platforms like OpenShift.

The result – more data.

Decentralize or die?
So how do the economics work? Pricing for big enterprise systems is – as usual – big.

Identity Management in Red Hat Enterprise Linux is free as a component of the platform and not a separately licensable products.  Identity Management in Red Hat Enterprise Linux is a component of the platform and not a separately licensable product. Enterprises install Red Hat IdM on any Red Hat enterprise server and get support with a valid subscription.

With over a dozen vendor-locked solutions that build business around identity management services and integration with Active Directory requiring upfront and ongoing maintenance costs, enterprises are looking more closely at Linux – Red Hat – FreeIPA solutions.

And now they can look at those enhanced by a backend blockchain ready database.

The IM world will continue to grow and evolve, and Hathaway believes blockchain is the best answer to scalability and flexibility going forward.

“As the economy improves we’ll continue to see increased consolidation, M&A, tech ecosystems sprouting up, vertical industry regulatory requirements coming online, and more,” he said. “No two IM deployments are alike, and by adopting an open and interoperable approach, enterprise and entire industries will start to see simplification through decentralization. Blockchain mirrors the move toward decentralization, but enterprises still need solid backend databases to manage the volume, and to be able to scale on demand without losing control of their data, or their partners or customers’ data. That’s why we’re so excited to be working with FreeIPA.”

Edited by Ken Briodagh



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