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TIER Production Candidate Release Available for Download and Testing

Jan 13, 2017, by Meredith Lovelace
Tags: Recent Posts, Trust & Identity, Trust and Identity in Education and Research

Klara Jelinkova by Klara Jelinkova, VP & CIO of Rice University and Chair of the TIER Community Investor Council

On behalf of the TIER community, the TIER Community Investor Council (TCIC) thanks everyone who contributed to the completion of our Production Candidate Release of the TIER software suite. This is our second TIER release. TIER relies heavily on working groups, which have over 100 active, contributing individuals from the community. These teams, together with Internet2 staff and contracted partners, work to ensure we stay on track with what we set out to achieve in the first three years of this effort. Thank you! You are critical to the success of our community development effort.

TIER Software Components

Our December 2016 “production candidate” release provides virtual machines and associated Docker containers that have been configured and designed for production deployment of core TIER components:

  • Shibboleth Identity Provider (IdP), which enables federated single sign on using campus provided credentials
  • Grouper for group management and associated access control
  • COmanage Registry, a new component that provides an identity registry

These three components were chosen to help all TIER campuses to come to a shared maturity level and common set of practices.

Key Elements of the New TIER Production Candidate Release

We encourage campuses to test these container-based virtual machine images and provide feedback on the effectiveness of this approach. All files are available on the TIER Package Delivery wiki. We are very interested in your feedback and we encourage you to use this feedback form.

Key elements of the new TIER Production Candidate Release include:

  • A virtual machine environment for configuring, managing, building, and running the Docker versions of the TIER components
  • Development with production deployment characteristics in mind (such as load balancing for high availability during Shibboleth container rebuilds)
  • A consistent foundation for future upgrades and updates
  • Setting the stage for instrumentation, monitoring and management

We are developing this container approach to help ease deployment on campuses. While production versions of each software component are available and used by most campuses, we would like to move to a more automated release pipeline using containers.

We encourage campuses to test these container-based virtual machine images and provide feedback on the effectiveness of this approach. All files are available on the TIER Package Delivery wiki. We are very interested in your feedback and we encourage you to use this feedback form.

TIER container structure

(Above) Structure of the container-based files for the TIER download. For details
see the TIER Package Delivery wiki.

Now that the automated build pipeline is in place, the TIER packaging team expects to make much more frequent incremental changes based on feedback from testers.

Future Plans

The TIER working groups are exploring several items for Shibboleth IdP ease of use, including a web front-end for configuration, a campus metadata management tool, and providing for fewer XML editing tasks. Your feedback will inform the work on tuning the components for production use.