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TIER Community Contributor Spotlight

Jun 17, 2016, by Michael Zawacki
Tags: Community, TIER, Trust & Identity, Trust and Identity in Education and Research
Photo of James Babb, Tom Jordan, and Jon Miner

(L to R) James Babb, Tom Jordan, and Jon Miner, University of Wisconsin-Madison

This month, we focus on a trio of TIER community members from the University of Wisconsin-Madison who have contributed to development efforts across the TIER API, Entity Registry, and Packaging working groups - Tom Jordan, James Babb, and Jon Miner.

Tom Jordan is the team lead for the Middleware group at UW-Madison. His group’s work focuses mainly on identity and access management infrastructure, but also involves many different aspects of application integration. Tom commented, “TIER is an exciting space for us as it provides the capability to expand our integration toolkit, particularly in areas where commercial IAM software lacks functionality needed by higher education. I’m especially interested in TIER’s work to define APIs and interfaces between components, as this provides us with a blueprint for interfacing our internal systems and processes with the TIER architecture.” At the Internet2 Global Summit Tom agreed to take on the task of leading an effort to define reference architectures or TIER, taking into account the different needs and perspectives among community members ("reference architecture" is a set of documents which spell out what the different components of a system do and how they work together).

James Babb's role at UW primarily involves grouping technologies but has been expanding into other areas of identity management. He says he would like to see TIER provide a toolset that any campus—large or small—can use. "There are already many tools out there such as Shibboleth and Grouper, but how one connects them into a working machine is up to each individual school to figure out." Before joining the central IT department at UW, James worked for a much smaller group on campus and says that experience provided an understanding of the struggles a small IT shop can have with finding resources to develop tools on their own. "Small schools may not have the resources to essentially reinvent the wheel," says James, "and I think TIER can really help them out."

Jon Miner is technical lead for Middleware at UW-Madison, and implemented or designed most of the university's identity infrastructure. Currently he is heavily focused on infrastructure operations and guiding development of identity and data integration systems for both the Madison campus and the entire University of Wisconsin system.  "From a work standpoint, TIER is valuable to us as we move forward with the evolution of our identity system at Madison and system-wide, especially as a starting point to more sophisticated identity at our smaller system schools," Jon says. "From a personal standpoint, I'm very interested in making the world a better place, and I believe that by improving the ability for smaller schools to manage identity well and participate in federation we can improve society as a whole by giving people more learning opportunities."