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The Paths Forward to the Future

Jul 21, 2016, by Meredith Lovelace
Tags: InCommon, InCommon Federation, TIER, Trust and Identity in Education and Research

By Klara Jelinkova, Vice President & CIO of Rice University and chair of the TIER Community Investor Council

We started the TIER journey over two years ago through a series of galvanizing conversations about gaps between campus needs and what was available in the community to fulfill those needs. We all as investors felt that there was a problem and our shared action was needed to fix it. We initially concentrated on shoring up development efforts for software components. But this is about more than software development. We need to look at the interconnect between the software we use and the services on which we rely. In short, we’re finding that we need to align the visions across Trust and Identity as a whole. It’s not just about creating an integrated software suite. It’s about creating a set of capabilities that enable trust and identity services across our community.  

We rely on key software components. But we also rely on services like the identity federation provided by InCommon, allowing campus-managed single sign-on, or the federated wireless service, eduroam. We need to consider these components, as well as the software, as we proceed with planning and strategic decisions. Internet2 has affirmed the need to bring all of the trust and identity pieces together with the strategic decision to create a position of Vice President for Trust and Identity.

After starting in this role in January of 2016, Kevin Morooney immediately embarked on a priority-setting strategic process by engaging the community in a series of conversations about alignment of community expectations with available resources. This involves both TIER (campus IAM software and practices development) and InCommon (production trust services like the InCommon Federation), the primary programs reporting to Kevin.

“It’s about creating a set of capabilities that enable trust and identity services across our community.”

In May, a small team representing TIER investors and the InCommon Steering Committee spent two days with Internet2 staff to review the current state of the Trust and Identity division and whether its services and offerings align with the community needs. The group reported its findings in a joint meeting of the TIER Community Investor Council (TCIC) and InCommon Steering Committee at the Internet2 Global Summit in May. The TCIC and InCommon Steering members then charged Kevin and me with conducting a detailed set of assessments that would allow us to quickly develop a transparent path forward for both programs.

Kevin and I held two “paths forward” meetings, one focused on TIER in late June, and the other focused on InCommon in mid-July.  Both groups considered in-depth information about priorities, resources expended and needed, and gaps. The groups identified the top priority areas and associated costs for the respective programs, as well as a set of strategic recommendations. Internet2 CEO Dave Lambert requested, attended, and supported a formal read-out from each meeting.

Both groups acknowledged the interdependency between TIER and InCommon. Of the many areas of alignment, three stood out.

  1. Address risks to federation operations. The InCommon Federation does not currently have the resources to operate at the quality and security levels required and expected by those who rely on this critical service.
  2. Assure the continued maintenance of software, focusing on shoring up components that either support existing services we rely on (such as the InCommon trust federation) or software broadly deployed on campuses.
  3. Internet2 is the organization that is trusted to deliver both TIER and InCommon activities. Trust and Identity is and should remain an area of strategic focus for Internet2 as an organization.

Kevin’s and my next step is merging all of these recommendations and developing a report that provides a summary and next steps for Trust and Identity as a whole. We plan on having these as a discussion topic during the TIER Investor Meeting at the 2016 Technology Exchange (Monday, September 26). We hope that you will be able to join us.  

It’s an exciting time to look across the Trust and Identity landscape. We have seen remarkable support from the TIER investors, InCommon community, and Internet2 leadership as we work to take Trust and Identity to the next level. Thank you, all!

I would like to acknowledge and thank the participants of both “paths forward” meetings.

TIER Paths Forward
InCommon Paths Forward

Tom Barton
Eric Denna
David GIft
Ana Hunsinger
Klara Jelinkova
Glenn Lipscomb
Kevin Moroney
Kelli Trosvig
Bruce Vincent
Ann West
Steve Zoppi

Tom Barton
David Gift
Ted Hanss
Klara Jelinkova
Mark Johnson
Jim Jokl
Glenn Lipscomb
Kevin Morooney
Sean Reynolds
Ann West
Steve Zoppi

Read the follow up blog from August 2016