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The Importance of InCommon Federation Baseline Expectations for R&E

Mar 15, 2018, by Steve Fleagle
Tags: Frontpage News, InCommon, InCommon Federation, Recent Posts, Trust & Identity

Many don’t fully understand what the InCommon federation does and the value it brings to the R&E community. In my view, the value is in making collaboration between individuals and groups easier and more secure.

Without InCommon, each organization would need to build individual trust relationships. This would require significant effort, and would likely result in fewer collaborative efforts. InCommon federation enables secure, painless collaboration through the trust fabric of its members.

To build this trust, it is important that all members support a base level of practice to reduce risk and improve usability. Baseline expectations help define those practices in clear terms.

  • We must make the federated user experience easy to understand and navigate.
  • We must have up-to-date federated partner contacts to help us resolve access problems and work together on security issues.
  • We must be assured that our organizations will follow through on our promises to the trust community and that those representing the organization can affect change if needed.
  • Users must be aware of their privacy rights and know those rights are protected by both the service provider and their home organization, which acts on their behalf.
  • Organizations trust credentials issued by other organizations in the same way they trust the credentials they issue to access their own enterprise systems.

Setting these common expectations is what baseline is all about. When all members use the baseline expectations, it improves trust and enables collaborators to access mission-supporting services. For the InCommon federation to be successful, we must all support and abide by these baseline standards. I encourage you to adopt and promote baseline within the R&E community. It’s important we all do our part.

As the community matures, the specifics of the baseline are expected to evolve through community experience and feedback. InCommon has already proven to be a valuable asset to the R&E community, and adoption of the baseline standards will improve trust between members, further leveraging the value of the federation.