Streamlining Service Provider Onboarding: Criteria, Interactive Guidance, and More!
If you are a research, commercial, or education Service Provider, depending on your level of experience, joining the InCommon federation can be an intimidating process. As a Service Provider, there are likely to be a dozen or more steps and requirements that you will need to follow before you will be able to fully leverage the InCommon federation and become an operational participant.
For example, as an onboarding Service Provider, common questions you may be confronted with include:
- Is our application compatible with SAML standards?
- How do we leverage InCommon metadata to maximize our interoperability within the federation?
- What application configuration will give us the optimal user sign-on and federated experience?
With these questions in hand, today a Service Provider has to navigate across several, if not more, online resources to find the guidance and answers they need. And often, these online resources require a certain level of pre-existing knowledge and expertise to fully understand. As a result, the Service Provider onboarding experience can prove to be more difficult than necessary; leading to delayed onboarding, confusion, configuration variance, and reduced interoperability.
Faced with these challenges, the Streamlining Service Provider Onboarding Working Group set out to help streamline the onboarding process by centralizing the applicable resources and requirements Service Providers would need for their onboarding. Our specific approach was to make this material more readable, easier to navigate, and organized in the form of an onboarding walkthrough.
With this approach in mind, the working group collapsed these dispersed set of onboarding resources into a set of two living documents:
- InCommon Service Provider Onboarding - Criteria Document
- InCommon Service Provider Onboarding - Questionnaire
Note: These two documents are still a work in progress and are being updated based on recent community review. A high-level summary can also be found in the Final Report of the Streamlining SP Working Group.
As an onboarding Service Provider, the Criteria Document can give you the big picture on the fundamental technical standards that provide the cornerstone for how to interoperate securely and effectively within a federated environment. The Questionnaire, founded on the principals from the Criteria Document, can provide interactive guidance on your journey toward adopting these technical standards while providing tips, examples, and references to additional helper material.
With the Criteria Document and Questionnaire in hand, an onboarding Service Provider no longer needs to become lost in a sea of information. The time spent on reading through the troves of online resources and technical documentation can instead be directed toward following only those criteria and steps that are directly applicable to their onboarding process.
With the pace of technology and the continuing evolution of standards and requirements, it’s imperative to offer Service Providers an approach where they can quickly reference the resources they need for their onboarding process. Resources like the Criteria document and Questionnaire funnel information into a single location and are accessible to a wider experience spectrum of Service Providers. So at the end of the day, Service Providers are able to efficiently onboard into the federation and become operational as quickly and painlessly as possible.