Sun has released a commercial version of its open-source set of Java technologies, OpenSSO, part of its strategy of moving to open source all its software.

OpenSSO offers single sign-on, access management, federation and secure web services. OpenSSO incorporates such standards as Security Assertion Markup Language 2.0, Extensible Access Control Markup Language and WS-Federation; and such projects as OpenID and Information Cards.

OpenSSO Enterprise aligns with the OpenSSO project, which produces software known as OpenSSO Express.

Sun is mimicking a popular open source development method by aligning an open source project, which functions much like a living beta, with a supported commercial version of the same software. Sun uses the same model with MySQL.

Users who buy into OpenSSO Enterprise will get support and indemnity on both the commercial and open source versions, where new features are added at a more rapid clip.

The Express version will come in three-month cycles while OpenSSO Enterprise will ship once a year. Express build 6.0 is expected next month. The 7.0 build will ship in January and will also become version 8.0 of OpenSSO Enterprise 8.0.

The 8.0 commercial version will take the place of Sun Java System Access Manager and Sun Java System Federation Manager. Access Manager is the product Sun donated to the OpenSSO project to get it rolling.

"We are seeing a growing interest in OpenSSO and open source in general," says Gerry Gebel, vice president and service director for the Burton Group's identity and privacy strategies. "People are looking for different options on software licensing and support. They are not always happy with the price tag on commercial software licences."

Gebel says users are realising they must do customizations with general-purpose commercial products, so getting the source code with an open source product has its benefits.

"We see a lot of our clients that do feel they have a considerable amount of software engineering in-house and they do custom coding anyway and so they have become a target audience that is comfortable going [the open source] route."

OpenSSO Enterprise's access management features include an embedded directory, and centralised server and agent configuration. The federation capabilities feature multi-protocol support and Fedlet technology aimed at helping service providers create quick federations. The web services piece supports the NetBeans integrated development environment and the GlassFish application server.

OpenSSO Enterprise also includes a standards-based Security Token Service for issuing, validating and translating Web service tokens.

OpenSSO Enterprise can be licensed in its entirety or users can just buy into the federation features. Entry level pricing for the entire product is US$40,000 (£21,700) for fewer than 25,000 users. Entry level pricing for federation only is $20,000 for fewer than 25,000 users and includes unlimited partner connections.

Companies with needs above 25,000 users will be licensed on a per user basis. OpenSSO Enterprise is available as part of a Sun Identity Management Suite subscription or Java Enterprise System subscription.