Bringing Federation Operators and eScience together
Several years ago, development started on a collaboration management platform called COmanage. The goal was to create a tool that researchers could use to focus on safe and directed collaboration without requiring elaborate identity management infrastructure. With this worthy goal in mind the requirements-gathering phase started, and there we hit a challenge. The researchers - the source of the requirements - did not attend the same meetings or talk to the same people that the collaboration management platform developers did. A few research groups existed through mutual funding agencies (Internet2 and the National Science Foundation), but there was still a large gap between researchers and people trying to design tools for those researchers.
Fast forward several years, and the federation and identity space has grown enough that more and more people are becoming familiar with the possibilities. Researchers and National Research & Education Network (NREN) operators realized that there was information that needed to be shared. With that awareness, the VO Architectural Middleware Planning (VAMP) workshop was born.
Held in Utrecht, The Netherlands from 6-7 September 2012, the workshop is sponsored by Internet2, TERENA, and SURFnet. The Internet2 Middleware Initiative focuses on developing interoperable identity and access management infrastructures for research and higher education. The initiative's work includes developing tools, roadmaps, software, practices, standards, and education. TERENA is the Trans-European Research and Education Networking Association, facilitating collaboration and research for European R&E networks. SURFnet is part of SURF, the Dutch higher education and research partnership for Information- and Communications Technology (ICT). With close to 70 registered participants representing 19 countries and 45 organizations across 4 continents, there is a rich sharing of knowledge and needs between the participants. Sessions include frank examples of how home grown identity management tools have made life more complicated for research groups, demonstration of tools that NRENs have put together to enable collaboration, and guidance on what questions a research organization should ask themselves as the design (or redesign) their identity management environment.
By the close of the meeting, researchers will be able to go back to their organization with a stronger understanding of what tools are available to enable their collaborations, and platform developers and NRENs will have a better understanding of the unique needs of research VOs.