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Federated trust expands internationally with eduGAIN Declaration

eduGAIN is a key service developed within the GÉANT project, which enables the trustworthy exchange of information related to authentication, authorization and identity between member federations. Video courtesy GÉANT. Cover image courtesy istockphoto.com.

An ongoing collaboration between the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project and the Center for Trustworthy Scientific Cyberinfrastructure (CTSC) bore fruit recently as InCommon signed the eduGAIN Declaration. The agreement marks the first formal step in connecting the main identity federation in the US with 30 peer identity federations worldwide, including those in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Japan, and New Zealand, as well as in Europe.

Through eduGAIN, universities and their researchers and educators can access a greater range of services, delivered by multiple federations in a collaborative environment. Service providers for research, scholarship, and administration will reach international partners in other federations who will seamlessly benefit from the wider range of services.

InCommon, operated by Internet2, is the trust framework for shared access to online research and education resources in the US. “We expect eduGAIN will provide significant benefits to InCommon participants,” says Shel Waggener, senior vice president at Internet2. “Identity providers will be able to make many more services available, and our sponsored partners will greatly expand their scope. This is a big win for all involved.”

The LIGO and CTSC collaboration served as the key international research collaboration use case, and enabled the launch of InCommon’s current interfederation effort. The LIGO Scientific Collaboration hopes to make the first detection of gravitational waves and has member institutions in 22 nations on five continents. CTSC collaborates to create trustworthy cyberinfrastructure for US National Science Foundation-funded projects.

The GÉANT project — which includes the pan-European GÉANT network — developed and operates the eduGAIN service (as part of a wider service portfolio) to enable the exchange of identity and access information among member federations. "With this announcement, we pass a milestone that was set when the eduGAIN interfederation service launched in 2011 — for all production federations in existence to join," says Brook Schofield (TERENA), eduGAIN product manager. "Since that time we've seen the growth of identity federations in Europe and around the world and we continue to work on offering a platform for collaboration and innovation to research and education networks everywhere."

Jim Basney from CTSC and Warren Anderson at LIGO chair the InCommon interfederation subcommittee, working closely with John Krienke, Internet2 Trust Services director, to determine interfederation policy and the best technical paths forward. "It's the willingness of experts like Jim and Warren, as well as others who joined us in the interfederation working groups, that make the InCommon federation an active solution for research and education use cases,” says Krienke. “We're all indebted to LIGO and to CTSC for their efforts on behalf of all InCommon participants.”

"While LIGO is based in the US, we have members worldwide, as well as close collaborations in France, Italy, Japan and other countries,” says Anderson. “We see this work with InCommon and CTSC, which paved the way for InCommon to join eduGAIN, as an essential step toward manageable operation of international research efforts like ours. We're grateful to everyone who helped lower the barriers to international collaboration by making this happen.”

To learn more about CTSC, visit their website. To read more about the LIGO and CTSC collaboration, see the study: Three Approaches to International Identity Federation for the LIGO Project.

- Amber Harmon

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