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EDUCAUSE Catalyst Award Honors Internet2's Middleware Initiative and InCommon Federation

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  • From: Lauren Rotman <>
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  • Subject: EDUCAUSE Catalyst Award Honors Internet2's Middleware Initiative and InCommon Federation
  • Date: Fri, 11 Sep 2009 16:31:20 -0400


ANN ARBOR, Mich. – September 11, 2009 – Internet2 is pleased to announce that the Internet2 Middleware Initiative, and the U.S. national identity federation InCommon, are being recognized with the 2009 EDUCAUSE Catalyst Award. This award honors information technology- based innovations that provide groundbreaking solutions to major challenges in higher education.

"EDUCAUSE is proud to honor the ongoing contributions of federated identity management efforts such as the Internet2 Middleware Initiative and the InCommon Federation,” said Diana Oblinger, EDUCAUSE President and CEO. “These programs, and others like them around the world, offer the potential to greatly facilitate technology-based collaboration in teaching, learning, and research throughout higher education. We look forward to recognizing them formally at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference this November in Denver."

The 2009 Catalyst Award recognizes federated identity management, a set of technologies and standards that allow individuals to use their organizational credentials, for example a user ID and password, to access a variety of web-based resources, such as library databases, research data, student career services, and business process services.

“Shibboleth and InCommon have become vital components of our IT infrastructure,” says Kevin Morooney, chief information officer at Penn State University. “Penn State faculty and students use the federation to access course management systems, other teaching and learning service, training materials, and we use it to outsource business processes. This saves us time and money and allows us to expand services without purchasing new hardware. By using the federation, we also know that we're doing a better job of protecting the privacy of members of the Penn State community."

The Internet2 Middleware Initiative led the development of Shibboleth and continues to provide ongoing development and support for the project. Shibboleth is the community-developed, open-source software that has enabled the growth of privacy-preserving federations. The software allows a person to use one user ID and password to access protected resources and allows the home institution, and the individual, to release only the information necessary to access an outside resource. This preserves individual privacy and provides greater data security for the institution.

The Internet2 Middleware Initiative was also instrumental in the development of the OASIS Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) standard, which Shibboleth uses to exchange identity data between federated partners. SAML, the most widely-used protocol for federation worldwide, acts as an "Internet protocol for identity," enabling disparate systems to interact reliably and securely across all sectors of society.

The Internet2 Middleware Initiative also created the InCommon Federation, which was the next logical step in single sign-on deployment. For single sign-on to work across a large number of organizations, there must be a shared common environment of trust. Trust is based on secure operations, stable technology, and common policies and practices. The InCommon Federation, and its peer identity federations around the world, manage this trusted environment for their members. By joining InCommon, the U.S. national identity federation, an organization is assured that it can interact with all other federation members.

InCommon now has more than 160 organizational members and serves more than 3.6 million users.

Both InCommon and Shibboleth were created with support from the National Science Foundation. Worldwide adoption was driven by the efforts of the Internet2 community, EDUCAUSE, international partners, and a host of universities and colleges of all sizes.

In addition to Internet2 and InCommon, the Catalyst Award acknowledges the United Kingdom federation, managed by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) and the SWITCH Federation in Switzerland, as exemplars of the many organizations managing federated identity systems worldwide. The award will be presented at the EDUCAUSE 2009 Annual Conference in Denver, November 3-6, 2009.

To read the full EDUCAUSE announcement, visit:

About InCommon:

InCommon is the U.S. national identity federation serving higher education and its partners, including U.S. government agencies and research labs, companies and corporations, and K-12 school districts. InCommon eliminates the need for researchers, students, and educators to maintain multiple passwords and usernames. Online service providers no longer need to maintain user accounts. Identity providers manage the levels of their users' privacy and information exchange. InCommon, the uses SAML-based authentication and authorization systems (such as Shibboleth) to enable scalable, trusted collaborations among its community of participants. For more information:

About Internet2:

Internet2 is the foremost U.S. advanced networking consortium. Led by the research and education community since 1996, Internet2 promotes the missions of its members by providing both leading-edge network capabilities and unique partnership opportunities that together facilitate the development, deployment and use of revolutionary Internet technologies. Internet2 brings the U.S. research and academic community together with technology leaders from industry, government and the international community to undertake collaborative efforts that have a fundamental impact on tomorrow's Internet.

For more information:

For press/media contact:

Lauren Rotman
Phone: (202)331-5345

  • EDUCAUSE Catalyst Award Honors Internet2's Middleware Initiative and InCommon Federation, Lauren Rotman, 09/11/2009

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