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GÉANT Recognizes Scott Cantor for Work in Trust and Identity

Jun 13, 2016, by Dean Woodbeck
Tags: Frontpage News, International Community, Trust & Identity

Today, GÉANT, the pan-European networking organization, recognized Scott Cantor (The Ohio State University) with its 2016 Community Award for his long-time dedication to federated identity management for his long-time dedication to federated identity management. Internet2 congratulates Scott, and adds our thanks for his work, which has been incredibly influential and important to the trust and identity community worldwide and in the United States.

As GÉANT notes, Scott's name has become almost synonymous with the Shibboleth software. He has been involved with the Shibboleth project since its inception in 2001 and has been involved with InCommon since its formation in 2005. In fact, he was a member of a small group called "Club Shib" back in the "thought balloon days."

Ken Klingenstein (Internet2), another of InCommon's founders, says it best.

"The history of federated identity begins in early 2000, when a bunch of 'usual suspects,' led by RL 'Bob' Morgan, started chewing seriously on what had been an impossible dream - 'authenticating locally and acting globally.' Within a year, we had scoped out the nature and complexity of the task, and began to despair about our capabilities to rise to the challenge. Then, one afternoon, via a gentle email tap on the window of our group, a young identity architect from Ohio State introduced himself and said he was also interested in the problem space and had some thoughts. It didn't take long to have him join the band, and ultimately become the lead of what has been a very fine group producing very important identity music."

Just as important, Scott became involved in the drafting of the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) in 2001, when the drafting of v1.0 was almost finished. "The good and the bad that ended up in SAML 1.1 is mostly due to me," he says. Even more important, though, was his extensive involvement in SAML 2.0, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary and fixed most of those 1.1 problems.

"Over the last 15 years the international higher education/research community has created and deployed a framework that makes it much easier for people from different campuses across the world to use digital tools to support their collaborative work," says Steven Carmody (Brown University), chair of the InCommon Technical Advisory Committee who has also been involved with Shibboleth and InCommon since its inception. "This happened because of Scott. His work on standards groups to develop SAML, his work on Shibboleth, and his work globally have helped to significantly simplify and improve how researchers and instructors do their work."

When asked what drives his continued involvement, Scott provided this statement, "We have moved away out of necessity from some of the 'privacy above everything' approaches we started with. But fundamentally I think we represent the idea that users should have a real choice in who vouches for them. The web is a very flawed platform, but I think that choice still matters. I trust my university more than I trust the technology companies, and I think people should have that choice. I feel good about working on technology that supports that."

All involved with trust and identity, with InCommon, with the TIER project, offer Scott a huge round of applause for his work and continued involvement. One of the comments he made in thanking GÉANT for this recognition continues to ring true - we can only make progress when community members are willing to lend their time and talents to continuing these efforts.

"I particularly want to remember the late RL 'Bob' Morgan,"" Scott said, "known to most of this community, who was instrumental not only in the early design of what became Shibboleth, but who responded to a random programmer showing up on the project's early calls by asking him to build the thing. It taught me that the world is shaped mostly by the people who show up. This community continues to show up, so thank you."