In a new tutorial posted on his blog today Giorgio Sironi looks at the Zend_Auth component of the Zend Framework and how to create a simple login authentication method with it.
Zend_Auth is the component of the Zend Framework which provides a standard authentication mechanism for web applications users. It has few dependencies (on Zend_Loader and on Zend_Session for default persistence of the authentication) and, as other framework components, will let you concentrate on the user experience instead of worrying about boilerplate code.
He talks about how Zend_Auth handles properties internally and how it can make it easier to build out those redundant bits of so many applications you've worked with. He also includes a custom adapter that can directly use PDO to connect to the database and grab the login information it needs (to remove a dependency on Zend_Db).