UK Access Management Federation launched

Posted on Thursday, 30 November 2006

Connecting people to resources

JISC and Becta today announced the launch of the UK Access Management Federation. The Federation represents the centrepiece of JISC and Becta's significant investment in developing and implementing next generation access management systems based on Shibboleth technology, on behalf of the UK education and research community.

JISC and Becta today announced the launch of the UK Access Management Federation. The Federation represents the centrepiece of JISC and Becta's significant investment in developing and implementing next generation access management systems based on Shibboleth technology, on behalf of the UK education and research community.

The rapid growth in the number of schools with broadband connections over the past few years, and the development of the National Education Network has led to a large amount of content being made available to learners and teachers. However, with this success comes the burden of having to remember multiple usernames and passwords and the duplication of information being stored by numerous companies and organisations.

The need for more secure and simplified access to e-resources of all kinds, the support of complex e-learning and e-research collaborations and the need to allow institutions to take greater control over access to resources have led JISC and Becta to devote significant funds to investigate and implement new technologies. Central to these developments is the UK Access Management Federation.

The Federation, run by UKERNA on behalf of JISC and Becta, is made up of 'identity providers', such as Local Authorities (LAs), Regional Broadband Consortia (RBC), universities and colleges, and 'service providers', such as publishers of online resources.

Federated access management establishes a way of exchanging information between individuals and providers of digital resources, which protects the security of both the individual and the resource concerned. LAs, RBCs, universities and colleges are being invited to join the federation, which will bring the UK education and research sectors a step closer to achieving single sign-on to network and online resources.

Collaboration between JISC and Becta is ensuring a consistent approach to access management throughout UK education, from schools through FE, HE and research sectors. In addition, federated access management is emerging as an international standard and the UK federation is likely to be the largest of its kind so far.

Paul Shoesmith, Assistant Director, Technical Policy and Standards at Becta, said "The UK Access Management Federation provides a wealth of opportunities and benefits to pupils, teachers and administrators in providing simple and secure access to online resources. Shibboleth has been proven to meet the needs of learners and teachers while facilitating the anytime and anywhere access to learning called for by the Government's e-Strategy."

John Robinson, JISC Services Operations Director, added: "The current access managements service offered by JISC - Athens - requires colleges and universities to outsource the process of authenticating and authorising their users for access to on-line resources. The new service enables institutions to bring these functions back in-house, to take full responsibility for authenticating their members and asserting their entitlements to a variety of resources within a federation of mutual trust and support.

"The UK Access Management Federation is therefore a significant development which will enable a much greater degree of security and granularity of service. It will also offer a number of new opportunities for federation members to use the technology to manage access to their own resources as well as those from external service providers".

The Athens service will not cease, but will move from its current fully-funded status as a JISC Service to a subscription-based service after July 2008. The JISC has established a transition programme (http://www.jisc.ac.uk/federation/) with clear choices to minimise disruption to institutions and to their students and staff -- including the choice to continue using Athens.

For further information please go to:
UK Access Management Federation
Becta

For further information, please contact:
Lesley Leon (Becta) on 02476797146 or lesley.leon@becta.org.uk
Philip Pothen (JISC) on 07887 564 006 or p.pothen@jisc.ac.uk

Edited by SteveGlover on 08 February 2008, at 11:53 AM (Permalink)