The most recent sets of standards, SAML 2.0 and WS-Federation, define two roles in an identity federation partnership: an Identity Provider (IdP) and a Service Provider (SP).


Earlier SAML 1.x specifications used the terms Asserting Party (for IdP) and Relying Party (for SP). For consistency and clarity, however, PingFederate adopts the later terms IdP and SP across all specifications.

A third role, defined in the SAML 2.0 specifications and available in PingFederate, is that of an IdP Discovery provider.

With OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect 1.0 support, PingFederate can be configured as an authorization server (AS), an OpenID Provider (OP), and a Relying Party (RP). (Note that OP and RP are the synonyms for IdP and SP, respectively.)

Identity Provider

An IdP, also called the SAML authority, is a system entity that authenticates a user, or SAML subject, and transmits referential identity information based on that authentication.


The SAML subject may be a person, a web application, or a web server. Since the subject is often a person, the term user is generally employed throughout our documentation.

Service Provider

An SP is the consumer of identity information provided by the IdP. Based on trust, technical agreements, and verification of adherence to protocols, SP applications and systems determine whether (or how) to use information contained in an SSO token: a SAML assertion, a JSON Web Token (JWT), or an OAuth access token in conjunction with an ID token.

IdP Discovery Provider

This role provides an IdP look-up service that can be incorporated into the implementation of either an IdP or an SP, or it can be employed as a standalone server.

Authorization Server

An OAuth AS issues access tokens and refresh tokens to OAuth clients after the resource owner has fulfilled the authentication requirement.

OpenID Provider

An OP is an AS that is capable of authenticating the resource owner and providing claims (user attributes) to an RP about the authentication event and the user.