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Middleware Outreach Program Launched for Higher Education

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  • From: "Ann West" <>
  • To: <>
  • Subject: Middleware Outreach Program Launched for Higher Education
  • Date: Wed, 30 Jun 2004 11:23:04 -0600



Washington, D.C., June 30, 2004--How can middleware tools help higher
education institutions strengthen and standardize identity and access
management? Extending the Reach (ETR)--a partnership of the NMI-EDIT
Consortium of Internet2, EDUCAUSE, and the Southeastern Universities
Research Association (SURA) with several statewide university systems
and regional networks--will explore campus middleware delivery and
support models that demonstrate new approaches to electronic resource
sharing and link to the emerging national and global trust fabrics.

ETR will promote support models for identity and access management
services and will develop effective practices for regional and state-
based middleware infrastructure coordination. The effort will use
existing technology components and higher education-based practices
developed through the NSF Middleware Initiative.

Core middleware services include electronic identification,
authentication, and authorization, all involved in identity and access
management. In today's Internet world, individual applications usually
provide these services themselves. However, by promoting
standardization and interoperability, middleware will make advanced,
interorganizational network applications in the higher education
environment much easier to deploy, use, and manage. Currently, most
institutions deploy their own infrastructure independently, a very
staff-intensive activity.

The ETR program, managed by EDUCAUSE, is exploring the requirements and
viability of offering outsourced services for core middleware and
developing and piloting diverse business models, services, and products
for middleware training, consulting, and deployment. ETR participants
include the California State University System, the University of Texas
System, the University of Alaska System, and the Great Plains Network

"Our colleagues across the Great Plains currently have implemented core
middleware services differently," said Amy Apon, professor at the
University of Arkansas and principle investigator of the Great Plains
Network Consortium. "Leveraging the state and regional network
providers' existing outreach and collaboration activities, we are
working with NMI-EDIT to establish a cohesive middleware infrastructure
for sharing electronic resources regionally. This has the potential of
impacting not only K-20 education and research centers in the plains,
but also libraries, hospitals, and other public and private entities in
the central part of the country."

Speaking for the California State University System, Mark Crase, with
the Office of the Chancellor, said, "One of the objectives of our
system-wide secure identity management infrastructure project is to
avoid deploying unique, stand-alone middleware services at each CSU
campus. NMI-EDIT has a solid base of components that we can use to
address this technologically. Working with them through the ETR program
will allow us to create a model where system campuses can provide these
critical services to resource-limited schools and, while doing so,
identify the costs and benefits and technological, procedural, and
policy challenges associated with delivering middleware services."

To put the ETR outreach initiative in context, EDUCAUSE Vice President
Mark Luker said, "The operative word is scaling. Just like the original
Internet backbone, middleware-enabled applications will have similar
performance and interoperability issues at the state, regional,
national, and international levels. The ETR program is the first step
toward a broad support infrastructure for identity and access
management that is so critical to maintaining computer and network


The National Science Foundation (NSF) launched the NSF Middleware
Initiative (NMI) in September 2001 by committing $12 million over three
years to create and deploy advanced network services that simplify
access to diverse Internet information and services. One of the first
two system-integrator award teams, the NMI-EDIT Consortium, is led by
Internet2, EDUCAUSE, and the Southeastern Universities Research
Association (SURA). To help NMI create a national interoperable
middleware infrastructure for research and education, the NMI-EDIT
Consortium works with higher education constituencies, along with the
commercial and government sectors and international community, to
create shared architectures and products. Learn more at
<> and <>.

EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher
education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.
One of its initiatives is managing outreach and education efforts for
the NMI-EDIT Consortium. The current membership comprises nearly 1,900
colleges, universities, and education organizations, including 180
corporations. EDUCAUSE has offices in Boulder, Colorado, and
Washington, D.C. Learn more about EDUCAUSE at

Ann West
Outreach Coordinator


Peter DeBlois
Director of Communication Services


  • Middleware Outreach Program Launched for Higher Education, Ann West, 06/30/2004

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