What is Identity Management?

Identity Management (IdM) is the set of policies and procedures used to identify individuals and to keep track of what online resources they are permitted to access.

What is Federation, or Federated Identity?

Federation allows information to be safely and securely shared between multiple organizations. This is possible because many organizations contract with each other to abide by certain security rules which allow them to trust each other. Once this trust framework is established, IdM can be managed for users across multiple organizations without a need to issue a new username and password for each resource or application. Organizations belonging to the federation can trust the others’ IdM processes to be as good as their own. This dramatically decreases the amount of user account support required, increases the number of offerings each user can access, and saves money compared to each school developing solutions from scratch.

How is the "trust federation" managed?

There are many federations, but the Big Ten Academic Alliance trust framework is managed by membership in the InCommon Federation which specializes in education and research institutions in the US. All Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions have become contracted members of this federation and are issued a "level of assurance" by the federation which verifies their trustworthiness to other members of the federation.

How does Federated Identity facilitate shared research and academics?

Through federating identity, applications and projects are no longer limited to a single campus's faculty, staff, and students, and can be shared with others in the Big Ten Academic Alliance. Shared software applications can be made available much more quickly than ever, as setup processes that used to take weeks or months can sometimes be completed within days. With much of the responsibility for reconciling security, policy, and user account management resolved through federation, those who support or engage in research have more time to focus their attention on the research itself.

What applications are federated and available now in the Big Ten Academic Alliance?

Check out the Federated Applications page to see what resources and applications are available now as a result of Big Ten Academic Alliance Identity Management efforts.

I have a resource or application which I would like to make available to other Big Ten Academic Alliance institutions. How can federated identity help me?

You should talk with your local campus IdM contacts about your specific use case to determine how federated identity might play a role.