Federated Access Management – April 2009 Update

JISC RSC London’s first FAM related webinar of the year: Federated Access Management, Reviewing Progress gave learning providers the opportunity to hear the latest news from the UK federation and the JISC Access Management Team as well as sharing feedback on their experiences so far. A full report from this January event and an archived recording of the webinar are available here: http://www.rsc-london.ac.uk/1321/

February saw JANET(UK) hold a FAM event in London aimed specifically at FE: Implementing Federated Access Management in Further Education. The focus was on institutions that are yet to implement federated access and those with outsourced provision looking to implement their own identity provider (IdP).

Key messages we identified from both events are:

  • A common problem with getting FAM implementations off the ground is that institutional user directories need to be accurate and many institutions have issues in this area. This is a problem that many IT managers are reluctant to admit to publicly, but is more widespread than people realise. Rather than see this as a problem it is suggested that FAM be seen as an opportunity to face up to these issues and a spur to improving the quality of the institutional user directory.
  • Federated access can play an important role in helping institutions meet their e-safety commitments as the technology is built with e-safety principles at its core.
  • Forward looking institutions are beginning to look at uses for FAM beyond simple access to online subscription resources. It is being used by some for controlling access to VLEs and other resources. This involves institutions setting themselves up as service providers and opens doors to providing access to college services, such as the VLE, to users from other institutions – this is becoming more important as colleges work increasingly in partnerships with each other and other organisations.

JISC RSC London will be running another FAM webinar in the summer term. We intend to look at the issues around preparing user directories for FAM, an update on the Shibboleth for Windows installer, the future plans for the UK Federation and what learning providers in the region are planning to do about FAM induring the next academic year.

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