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A Service Provider (SP) is an entity that provides Web services. Examples of Service Providers include Application Service Providers (ASP), Storage Service Providers (SSP), and Internet Service Providers (ISP).
A Service Provider relies on a trusted Identity Provider (IdP) or Security Token Service (STS) for authentication and authorization. In Web Service Federation (WS-Federation), a Service Provider is called a “Relying Party” (RP). In SAML, which is the XML-standard for exchanging data, the security domains that information is passed between are a Service Provider (SP) and an Identity Provider (IdP). SAML’s Service Provider (SP) depends on receiving assertions from a SAML authority or asserting party, a SAML Identity Provider (IdP). Other Service Provider technologies important to Identity Management include Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), software offered using an Application Service Provider (ASP) and Cloud computing providers.