Unforgettable. Remarkable. Impactful. Authentic. Passionate. Legendary. Generous.
These are just a few words that echo in conversations and stories about Vittorio. Of course, "That hair!" is a repeat exclamation, eliciting tales of hair product recommendations and best practices. But Vittorio was so much more than can be summarized in a list.
Vittorio was larger than life. His is an inspiring story of humble beginnings and a testament to what passion, drive, and grit can build. He was a titan who powerfully shaped the identity industry and won hearts while he did it. While his time with us could never be long enough, there is no shortage of things to celebrate about Vittorio Bertocci.
Born in a small village in Italy as the 10th child of a janitor, Vittorio's journey to the international stage was hard-earned. He worked tirelessly to put himself through school, and with the love and support of his family and wife, he steadily grew his influence and expertise to global acclaim.
Vittorio was known for a lot of things in the identity industry. First and foremost, of course, was his technical depth: very few people in the world knew identity as well as Vittorio. In many ways, he helped create identity as an industry rather than as an afterthought. Vittorio sat on the Board of Directors of the OpenID Foundation, authored two IETF RFCs that became part of the OAuth 2.0 protocol, worked closely with the FIDO Alliance, and was hugely influential on Auth0 and Okta’s product roadmaps.
But even among the leading experts in the industry, Vittorio stood out not only for his expertise in identity but for his passion and drive to "level up the world's identity IQ." He cared deeply about teaching the rest of the world about identity and why he found it so important. In the early days, he wrote books. Later, he created and hosted a podcast, authored blogs, and spent a lot of time traveling around the globe to major industry events, speaking, selecting talks, and helping others improve their content. He was driven by the idea that not only should he hold himself to a high standard, but he should also help everyone else raise the bar. Vittorio couldn’t fathom a world where people built identity products without understanding the identities they were protecting. He helped build the machinery behind the login box because he saw so acutely the people who were in front of it.
His Impact and Legacy
A veteran in the identity industry, Vittorio had a lengthy career with Microsoft, working with Fortune 100 and Global 100 companies. He contributed to the inception and launch of Microsoft's claims-based platform components (Windows Identity Foundation and ADFS, ADAL and MSAL SDKs, and ASP.NET middleware).
At Auth0 and Okta, Vittorio was a long-standing contributor and thought leader in all aspects of the identity industry and domain. His forward-thinking commentary made him an in-demand voice at industry events worldwide, including Identiverse, BUILD, PDC, TechEd, EIC, Cloud Identity Summit, and many others.
Vittorio struck an unusual balance of pragmatism without veering away from doing what is right. In his countless panels, interviews, and general discussions, he always defended the need to protect the privacy of every customer, user, consumer, citizen, or whatever other persona identity technology is meant to protect.
Vittorio's impact on colleagues and the entire identity community has been tremendous. His work lives on in standards and protocols, books, podcasts, and presentations to help educate and advance the identity industry for years to come. The following is a small representation of Vittorio's work and influence.
Standards, protocols, and resources
- IETF RFCs:
- Board of Directors: OpenID Foundation
- Open source visual language for identity: Identicons
Books, publications, and training materials
- Book: Modern Authentication with Azure Active Directory for Web Applications
- Book: Programming Windows® Identity Foundation
- Book: A Guide to Claims-Based Identity and Access Control
- Book: Understanding Windows CardSpace: An Introduction to the Concepts and Challenges of Digital Identities
- Ebook: OAuth2 and OpenID Connect: The Professional Guide
- Whitepaper: Single Sign-On from Active Directory to a Windows Azure Application
- Article: Claims and Identity, On-Premises and Cloud Solutions
- Article: Secure ASP.NET Web API with Windows Azure AD and Microsoft OWIN Components
- Article: Re-Introducing the Windows Azure AppFabric Access Control Service
- Training video: Learning Identity
Podcasts and interviews
- Host of Identity, Unlocked
- Interview with Identity at the Center: OAuth 2.0 Step Up Authentication Challenge Protocol with Vittorio Bertocci
In Their Words: Stories of Leadership, Passion, and Excellence
Working with Vittorio, learning from him, and having the privilege of simply being in his orbit leaves a lasting imprint, as evidenced by the following stories, memories, and heartfelt thoughts from colleagues and colleagues turned friends.
“His authenticity came out on stage, in our team meetings, and around the table whenever we broke bread. We are all richer for having shared space with him, and I am deeply thankful for the time I spent working alongside him.”
“Saying that Vittorio is a bona fide Principal Architect is a bit like saying Michelangelo is a bona fide artist.”
“Vittorio and I had a running joke, given both our names are uncommon: what is our latest Starbucks name? I built my understanding of the identity space by watching and reading Vittorio's training videos and blogs. His persistence in adopting the right standards to help unlock the world of passwordless is valuable, and the impact of his work will be felt for years. In addition to identity standards questions, Vittorio would get questioned about his long, beautiful curls. Vittorio would then seamlessly incorporate these questions into his talk tracks to make any topic fun and engaging. From his passion for helping everyone understand the role of identity to engaging with everyone on almost any topic thoughtfully, he always left an impression on the group and me. His loss is a massive loss for the identity industry and certainly for Okta.”
“Greater than life. Unforgettable. He left a mark on everyone he met. Despite the tragedy, his legacy will have a remarkable impact in the industry but, more importantly, in the lives of so many souls. The knowledge, the energy, the wit, the hair, the flair. Isaac Newton famously said: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." The entire identity industry stood on Vittorio's shoulders. No second I spent with Vittorio was ever wasted. From intense work-related debates and passionate agreements (and disagreements) to incredibly amusing random topics, I can never recall a dull moment. This quote embodies how I perceived his living from another great Italian, Michelangelo: ‘There is no greater harm than that of time wasted.’”
“Vittorio put humans first in everything he did and touched. When he explained complex standards and protocols to me, he put them in a context I would easily understand from an end-user perspective. He would simplify and put the debates about certain implementations that would expose us or the user from a security or privacy standpoint in the context of the user. He would humanize the complex topics he presented at our kick-offs, offsites, and conferences. He would weave his self-deprecating humor in them. In his quest to impart his knowledge and wisdom on Identity to us, Vittorio ended up leaving a remarkable Identity of his own behind with us. I am grateful for his patience and passion – for teaching me and pushing me to be a better leader in our industry. I am grateful for the many laughs, debates, glasses of prosecco, and hours we spent together. I am grateful to have known such a remarkable person. Vittorio, you will be greatly missed.”
“Vittorio was passionate about ensuring that everything he said was accurate. He would spend a lot of time crafting and recrafting his statements, researching the meanings of words, and trying to find an accurate English representation of an Italian phrase. He extended this to others as well. Always helping them present their best selves forward when creating reusable assets or speaking at a conference.”
“I met Vittorio on my first day of onboarding. He was teaching Identity 101 to new hires with the same energy as a conference stage. He gave his knowledge selflessly. To the standards bodies developing the backbone of the internet. Through thousands of papers, podcasts, interviews, keynotes, and the infamous Identicons. To my little brother when he decided to grow his hair long and use Olaplex shampoo. To every Starbucks employee who wrote ‘Victoria’ on his cup. Vittorio will be with us for a long time, because he shared himself with the world.”
“I still remember the first time I watched one of Vittorio's videos explaining WS-Trust in 2006. The subject hooked me immediately. His passion and clarity in explaining the complexity of federated identity was unique. That was the seed that later became Auth0 in 2013. I am lucky that our paths crossed. Every 1:1 was an opportunity to learn, to discuss the little details, the dynamics in working groups, product ideas, SDK experience, fossils, food, travel… I will miss you, my friend. Your legacy will always be remembered.”
“I met Vittorio for the first time in Microsoft’s Building 20, a place where magic happened. This was in 2008. In this case, he was the magician. That first master class in identity on a whiteboard led to co-authoring a book with him, then another one, and later on to founding Auth0. I finally convinced him to join Auth0, and the rest is history. You were always so generous with your knowledge, wisdom, and humor. I am so grateful for all the moments we shared along these extraordinary years. Grazie carissimo.”
In the Spirit of Giving
Two causes of importance to Vittorio and his family are higher education for low-income students and pancreatic cancer research. If you feel inspired to do so, you can donate in his honor to: