Cloud computing is changing the way people do almost everything, in some ways it is the continuation of the evolution of the information economy. But when the information economy is cloud-based so is a great deal of our own data. Today we chat with the Vienna-based open source software developer  and Founder of and Danube Clouds – Markus Sabadello

Markus Sabadello - founder of

Markus Sabadello, founder of the Vienna based software service

On OpenID and open authentication:

Matthew Stevens: Hi Markus. So first tell us what is and what I-Names and OpenID are?

Markus Sabadello:  Those were the three services. You get an I-Name. Every I-Name comes with an I-Number. So you get the name together with the number and you get these three services; OpenID,  contact page and forwarding. And the idea for the OpenID service was that your I-Name could be your one single sign on identifier for the internet. You can go to all these websites and you can identify with =matthew.stevens or =markus or whatever. You can register an additional I-Name to the I-Number that you already have. Then you can delete the old I-Name. So you can change the name without changing the number. And with the OpenID protocol the websites so called relying parties they are always connected to your I-Number. Today there’s a new generation of OpenID. It’s called OpenID Connect. OpenID Connect 1.0 I think it just came out a few weeks ago, or a few months ago. And that is actually quite different from the previous OpenID protocols. The general pattern is roughly the same. You get redirected to the provider. There’s good support for these client-side applications. And it also has support for native applications. Apps on the phone for example. so you can use this protocol to sign in to an app, which with the old protocol was really difficult and not very secure. And today with this new protocol, with OpenID Connect, I think what will happen mostly, is to have a number of well-known predefined OpenID providers. So it will say, you know, sign in with Google, sign in with Microsoft, sign in with Skype, sign in with Facebook. And we already have that today. Today we already have this Facebook connect, and Twitter, sign in with Twitter. And I think this is exactly what will continue to be the case. I think they will switch to using OpenID Connect. Because right now they all have their own proprietary OAuth-base protocol, Facebook connect and Twitter and so on. They have their own protocol which is very similar to OpenID, but it’s their own thing and now I think they will start switching to OpenID Connect.

Matthew: But the mechanisms that they’re using for that OAuth authentication are unknown. You can’t see the code that they’re using.

Markus: You can’t see their code but they have documentation you can see the api, you can see exactly what you have to redirect and what you have to send back and forth. And OpenID Connect, one of maybe the biggest differences between OpenID Connect and maybe the previous versions is that OpenID Connect is actually an OAuth profile. So it is OAuth underneath. It is just a flavor of OAuth basically.

On Danube Clouds and the RESPECT NETWORK initiative:

Markus: Have you come across the term Personal cloud, personal data store, private cloud, personal data vault, Data locker? There are all sorts of terms.

Matthew: Yeah. Now there’s a cloud available that you can host your own personal cloud. There’s many options.

Markus: Yes, the idea is to transform I-Names and actually rename them. So starting very soon, they will not be known anymore as I-Names, but as cloud names. So you will get a cloud name and a cloud number associated with it. And a personal cloud, which is a data repository basically for your stuff, for your information, under your control. Private, not in one centralized place, like it is the case with you know all these services, Facebook, google, dropbox. Dropbox is also a cloud but it’s centralized it’s under the control of one company, one data center under one domain name. So the idea with these cloud names is that you get one. You get a cloud name and an associated personal cloud and just like it is today you can get it from different providers. So Today there is FullXRI and OneID. You can get your I-Name from either one. And in the future there will also be multiple companies called Cloud Service Providers, and you can choose one and you can get your cloud name and your personal cloud.

Matthew: So do you think that that will be a free service initially?

Markus: The idea right now is to sell a cloud name for $25.00 but for life. So you can get the cloud name plus a personal cloud  for life. But you can’t get more than one… That would be the base offering and there will probably be additional variations. But this generic. The original OpenID idea, that you could get your OpenID from anywhere and even self-host your OpenID and then log in to a website, that’s something that I think people never really got quite used to. And also maybe another reason is that maybe the relying parties just don’t trust that system. Maybe Der Standard would say, “OK, the Facebook users can login and the twitter users can log in, but to let anybody from anywhere on the web to log in to my site.”, maybe that’s also a psychological barrier, but I don’t know. But in theory it’s a good idea and maybe let me quickly mention this Respect Network, the next generation of I-Names, like cloud names. The idea there is to also do log in again. Single Sign-on again, and then to tell people sign-in with your personal cloud (name).

Matthew: Have you had any interest from large organizations that want to implement this?

Markus: Myself, no, but this Respect Network company, they have built a network of what they call founding partners. They have about 50, I think, 50 partner companies all over the world who want to do something with this cloud name and personal cloud.

Matthew: But these are mostly commercial organizations, not like public institutions?

Markus: Mostly, yes. But there’s one guy in the U.K. who is very well connected to the higher education system in the U.K. who wants to do exactly that. He wants to give single sign-on and personal cloud services to all students in the U.K. The way this is currently being built is that it (your personal cloud storage) is somewhere in the cloud but you can choose from different providers. You can get your cloud from a provider in the U.S., you can get your cloud from a provider here, you can get your cloud from a provider in Japan but it’s all somewhere in the cloud. But it could be on your phone too. If the phone is connected. I mean the idea for personal cloud is, it should always be connected, it should never be offline, because there might be transactions with your personal cloud without you interacting (with it). If you give me access to your personal cloud then I can maybe always look up your latest phone number. That would be a use case, you give me access to your phone number which is stored in your personal cloud. I can look it up whenever I want and if you change your phone number you just change it in your personal cloud and I will see your new phone number and you don’t have to notify me. That would be a typical use case that these personal cloud people are talking about. And it would only work if your cloud is permanently connected.

The next paradigm: Vendor Relationship Management

Matthew: Why would businesses want to change their website to allow VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) apps to interact with them rather than maintaining control via some CRM (Customer Relationship Management) interface?

Markus: The usual answer to that is, on the one hand, because it’s a good thing, it empowers the users, it is ethical, it gives control back to the user. And maybe there’s an economic incentive behind that as well. Because if I as a business do something the users like, then users will also like me. That’s one of the ideas. But the bigger answer is that VRM is good for both sides, it’s good for the user because they retain control but it’s also really good for the business because right now businesses are spending so much money on maintaining their CRM database, to keep it current, their services, their papers, statistics, people change their name, people change their phone numbers and it’s a huge administrative and very expensive task for big companies to keep their CRM database up to date. There’s a lot of manual work. People actually manually updating fields and doing research, maybe figuring out is this account in my CRM system actual the same person as the other account in my CRM system. And the idea with VRM is that that would basically go away, because a customer comes to your website and they give you their cloud name and you get a connection into their personal cloud, because the customer wants a relationship with you and then you can just always pull the latest data out, the data that you need, right? Maybe you need to ship a book or you ship something to that customer, you get the address out of the personal cloud. And you don’t have to worry about the address being up to date.

… the bigger answer is that VRM is good for both sides, it’s good for the user because they retain control but it’s also really good for the business because right now businesses are spending so much money on maintaining their CRM database

Matthew: That would be really useful if a customer was switching between, for example, insurance companies, or switching between doctors, or switching between dentists, anything where there’s a large amount very private  data that you have.

Markus: So that’s CozyCloud in France. And in the UK there’s something called Mydex. They also do personal data store and they also have these agreements with British institutions so you can get your Mydex. But they call it a personal data store and yeah, they also fill it with stuff that institutions have about you.

Matthew: Hmm. Cool.

Markus: And all of these initiatives they are all partners of the Respect Network. This is pretty big. So you might actually start hearing more about this stuff soon. Respect Network is planning six or seven launch events this summer and all kinds of countries. London, San Francisco, Tokyo. So like I said with the Respect Network there will be these different cloud service providers. Right now there are 5 companies that have made the commitment to be a cloud service provider. And by summer, by June, July it will probably be more. It will maybe be 7 or 8 or 9 companies offering clouds. Among them will be the two existing I-brokers, me (Danube Clouds) and OneID.

Matthew: Do you think that this is the right product for this period in time when people’s privacy rights are basically being tossed out the window?

Markus: Yes, yes there are many products and many efforts in response to these violations. And the types of these responses and countermeasures are very different as far as the strengths of the technologies is concerned. So personal cloud is a huge improvement over the landscape that we have today, because today everything is in Facebook and everything is in Gmail and you have no choice when everything is in these few databases. With the personal cloud idea you can at least choose where you get (your personal cloud service) from. It’s a little bit like email addresses. You can get email addresses from different providers and they still all work with each other.

Matthew: Ok, thanks for chatting with us Markus and I hope to see lots of new personal cloud services from Danube Clouds and the Respect network in the near future!

If you are interested in reserving your own cloud name please see:

Check out Markus Sabadello at

http://projectdanube.orgprojectdanubelogo  danubeclouds

More information about the software behind the RESPECT NETWORK can be found at

This article also appears on the blog for ConnectedMedia GmbH – ConnectedMedia

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