The identity bus
Federation Silos and Spaghetti Identity are two anti-patterns directly addressed by the Identity Bus pattern in the WSO2 Identity Server. With Identity Bus, a given service provider is not coupled to a given identity provider and also not coupled to a given federation protocol. A user should be able to log into a service provider that accepts only SAML 2.0 tokens with an identity provider that issues only OpenID Connect tokens. The Identity Bus acts as a middle-man, or an Identity Broker, that mediates and transforms identity tokens between heterogeneous identity protocols.
The following are some of the benefits of using the Identity Bus pattern.
- Introducing a new service provider is extremely easy. You only need to register the service provider in the Identity Bus and pick which identity providers it trusts. It is not necessary to add the service provider configuration to each and every identity provider. Similarly, removing an existing service provider is extremely easy. You only need to remove the service provider from the Identity Bus. It is not necessary to remove the service provider from each and every identity provider.
- Introducing a new identity provider is extremely easy. You only need to register the identity provider in the Identity Bus. It will be available for any service provider. Similarly, removing an existing identity provider is extremely easy. You only need to remove the identity provider from the Identity Bus.
- Enforcing new authentication protocols is extremely easy. Consider a scenario where you need to authenticate users with both the username and password and also Duo Security (SMS based authentication). To do this, you only need to add that capability to the Identity Bus and pick the required set of authentication protocols against a given service provider at the time of service provider registration. In the Identity Bus, each service provider can be configured based on how it authenticates users.
- Claim transformations. Your service provider may read user's email address from the " attribute id - but the identity provider of the user may send it as " . Identity bus can transform the claims it receives from the identity provider to the format expected by the service provider.
- Role mapping. Your service provider needs to authorize users once they are logged in. What the user can do at the identity provider is different from what the same user can do at the service provider. User's roles from the identity provider define what he what they can do at the identity provider. Service provider's roles define the things a user can do at the service provider. Identity bus is capable of mapping identity provider's roles to the service provider's roles. For example a user may bring idp-admin role from the identity provider - in a SAML response - then the identity bus will find the mapped service provider role corresponding to this, say sp-admin, and will add that into the SAML response returning back to the service provider from the identity bus.
- Just-in-time provisioning. Since identity bus is at the middle of all identity transactions - it can provision all external user identities to an internal user store.
- Centralized monitoring and auditing.
- Introducing a new federation protocol needs minimal changes. If you have a service provider or an identity provider, which supports a proprietary federation protocol, then you only need to add that capability to the identity bus. No need to implement it at each and every identity provider or service provider.