Is SPML irrelevant in the coming CardSpace/Higgins/OpenID identity world?

I was reading about Conor Cahill’s workshop at RSA on secure provisioning of network credentials over the wire. It was a joint proof of concept between Intel, BT, and HP using Liberty’s ID-WSF Advanced Client. They talked about how to get credentials from service providers down into a client environment. (Although it is not a requirement, clearly Intel would love it if the client environment was a TPM-like object.)

One aspect of all this is a provisioning service, one for which Liberty has cooked up a spec. As a user provisioning guy this model of provisioning looked a bit strange to me. Think telephone service provisioning, not enterprise user account provisioning. The funny thing is, I thought there already was a perfectly good provisioning service standard out there – Service Provisioning Markup Language (SPML).

That got me thinking. Provisioning is an aspect of the identity lifecycle that you don’t really hear about in talks on Higgins and CardSpace and such. This is a bit of history repeating itself. Back in the day, the authentication guys got all the glory, all the publicity, and when it came time to make sure there were actually credentials in back-end services, they waved their hands. It was the lowly user provisioning system, the late-shift janitor of the identity world, that actually had to do the dirty work. Who is this janitor in the user-centric identity world?

Before I go on without a better understanding, I’m looking for comments on this one. Where does SPML fit in this brace new identity world? Is the intention that SPML will be passed as part of a larger SAML assertion to establish credentials? Is the PSTC working on scenarios like this?