Freeyourid.com, the service that offered .name based personalized openID, is shutting doors after almost two years in operation. Last week, they sent out emails to all their customers (including me) about their plans to shut down after August 15th and explaining the customers about their choices. More than the traditional software world, the shutting down of a provider in the services world impacts the customers more. At Cloud Ave, we have covered this topic earlier and offered few tips on how the risks can be minimized. However, Freeyourid.com’s shutdown will have minimal impact on the customers because their service was completely open from the beginning itself.
OpenID is essentially a protocol like http and it offers a mechanism by which an user can authenticate themselves by proving their ownership of an URL. This is an open protocol in the sense that
- Serves as a Single Sign On option
- Completely decentralized and no single point of failure
- Users are free to use any ID provider and relying party
- Offers lots of flexibility for the users
In short, OpenID gives the power of an user’s identity in the hands of the user themselves.
In this blog, I have talked many times about the importance of Open Source in SaaS. It is my argument that SaaS vendors should Open Source the software powering their service as a way to empower the users. However, openness doesn’t start and end with Open Source alone. It also means open protocols, open formats, open architecture, etc.. Slowly, service providers are embracing the idea of openness as they have understood that Openness is a vital marketing tool in this era of empowered customers. If a vendor decides to offer a service on top of an open protocol like OpenID, it doesn’t matter if the vendor goes out of business because the existing users will not lose their precious data.
When I received the mail from freeyourid.com, I wasn’t troubled by it. Rather, I knew from the beginning that I can maintain the same identity and host it with a different provider. The following is what I will be doing in the next few days to keep my openID intact.
- Claim the ownership for the domain. It is quite easy and can be obtained with the help of Freeyourid.com
- transfer the domain to a new registrar and set it up
- Use an OpenID provider like MyopenID.com and set up the domain to serve as an OpenID. Here is the most important aspect of Openness. Even if MyopenID.com or any other openID provider goes out of business, it is possible to take the code for OpenID-Server and run it on our own servers. This is not possible in the case of proprietary vendors. Only the openness empowers the users.
- Set up the A records of the domain to point to the IP address of the openID provider or your own service.
All these things can be done by the users without any reliance on the service provider or other vendors. Yes, Freeyourid.com has entered the deadpool but their users are not left in lurch. This is the power of being “open for business”.