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InCommon Fee Increase Already Providing Value

Aug 17, 2017, by Sean Reynolds
Tags: InCommon Federation, Trust & Identity

In November 2016 InCommon announced a fee increase, the first since 2012 (for additional background see the FAQ on the wiki). The purpose of this post is to let you know how the InCommon Federation is using these additional resources.

This increase came about after a planning process and consultations conducted last year that identified a number of gaps between the needs of the community and InCommon’s ability to meet these needs. In addition, the community reinforced that InCommon has become critical infrastructure and that we need to assure long-term sustainability.

This past June the InCommon Steering Committee, which provides executive guidance for the InCommon Federation, received an update regarding the impact of activities enabled by the fee increase. Here is a summary of the developments over the past six months:

  • InCommon has rolled out a security incident response program and developed a disaster recovery plan.
  • InCommon has made progress on building a hybrid on-premise/cloud operational environment.
  • A new security lead will join the team later this month to support our ongoing focus and commitment to improving federation security practices.
  • The Federation Manager portal has been significantly enhanced and the hiring of a new DevOps manager will help ensure that future software development activities will be responsive to the needs of federation participants and take place much more quickly.
  • Responding to the expressed need for improved help desk support, a combination of some internal reorganization and new resources has enabled additional personnel to provide support for federation activities.
  • From a programmatic perspective, the InCommon Assurance Advisory Committee—working with community leaders and InCommon Steering Committee—are moving the Baseline Expectations program from design to implementation, with the goal of reducing variability and thus improving interoperability.

These actions align to the results of the planning process mentioned above, which included community leaders (executive and technical) and Internet2 Trust and Identity leadership. That process helped to determine the needs and desires of stakeholders and our collective community’s ability to deliver on those needs.

Both the InCommon Steering Committee and the TIER Community Investor Council (TCIC) discussed the insights and observations developed from those conversations. (The TCIC represents the 49 TIER investor institutions that provided initial funding for TIER.) The InCommon Steering Committee unanimously agreed that a modest increase in federation service fees was necessary to close important operational gaps and mature security and operations. While there is ongoing pressure for InCommon to increase its capabilities, the Steering Committee felt strongly that an investment in sustainability and service maturity was immediately necessary.

Discussions about the long-term sustainability of both InCommon and TIER continue with InCommon Steering, the TIER investors, and the recently formed Trust and Identity Program Advisory Group.

While the work required to support a large and complex service like the InCommon Federation is never done, considerable progress has been made on improving federation operations for the diverse participants who depend upon InCommon. The InCommon Steering Committee will continue to work with Trust and Identity Services leadership and community leaders to help ensure that InCommon continues to enhance services based on the needs identified last year.