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BaseCAMP for Experienced IT Professionals

June 15, 2020

By Jessica Fink (Coltrin), InCommon Community Advocacy Program Manager

… the 2014 version of me would have loved to have BaseCAMP to attend, but honestly it probably would have taken attending CAMP first and feeling the overwhelm before I would’ve attended. Because I didn’t consider myself a newbie …

I still remember my first experience at CAMP at TechEx in 2014. CAMP is the part of TechEx that includes case studies and presentations from InCommon participants. I considered myself experienced, since I had over 20 years working in information technology, primarily as a software developer and systems analyst. I was familiar with the higher education community since I had spent 5 years with Kuali, primarily leading the Kuali Rice project which had an identity management component, and I knew about Shibboleth and InCommon. 

As I was building my new IAM team at Portland State University, I attended CAMP to get grounded in the open source IAM world for my new role. I told myself, “Piece of cake, right? It’s just some new tools and new people.” I was very wrong, and as I’ve heard from others in the community, this was not a unique experience.

Identity and Access Management by nature is hard, messy, and way more complicated than it seems like it should be. Jerrod Thomas at Portland State University refers to it as the many-headed hydra, and my new role was to tame this mythical beast of IAM. 

My background did give me a base foundation for CAMP and I was able to follow along at a high level, but there was all this new terminology and years of conversation and practices that the core community members understood. Everyone was very nice and helpful, but as an independent learner I struggled to find my way. 

Our first big open source project was Shibboleth, and we ended up contracting with Unicon to outline a quick path to get forward. After that, I was able to find my way, attending CAMP and Advance CAMP at the following TechEx and religiously attending IAM Online sessions — I even got to present on one. Soon after came a Global Summit presentation and then membership on the InCommon Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).

The point of this story is that the 2014 version of me would have loved to have BaseCAMP to attend, but honestly it probably would have taken attending CAMP first and feeling the overwhelm before I would’ve attended. Because I didn’t consider myself a newbie or new to identity and access management or even new to the higher education community. However, BaseCAMP would have saved me a lot of pain and frustration because I would’ve been able to fill in the gaps in my knowledge and gain connections in an environment where any question is ok, and you are not expected to have all the answers. 

So, if you are a talented IT practitioner who has years of experience and loves solving complicated, tangled webs of problems, but you’re new to the InCommon federation, community, or software, BaseCAMP is also for you. It will show you an initial path forward and introduce you to the people and resources that are often invaluable when you are working on an IAM project within the community. The onramp to community can be challenging, but once you are there, the depth and quality of the people and resources available when we all work together is often more than you can imagine. I hope to see you online at BaseCAMP this year, and please feel free to email me with any questions.

Program and registration information: https://meetings.internet2.edu/2020-basecamp/