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InCommon BaseCAMP 2022 Speaker Spotlight: Q&A with Tom Jordan



By Apryl Motley - Technical Writer & Communications Lead, Internet2 Trust and Identity/NET+ Service

Tom Jordan

They say good things come in threes. BaseCAMP identity and access management (IAM) basics speaker Tom Jordan is living proof. He is in the third year of his tenure as a solutions architect at the University of Wisconsin, and he is a three-time speaker at BaseCAMP.

During his 20+ years at the university, Tom has seen its approach to IAM evolve over time. “Like many institutions, we have a lot of homegrown IAM infrastructure that manages our identity data aggregation, account provisioning, single-sign on, and other key functions,” he explained. “We are working to deconstruct some of these monolithic services to better take advantage of vended products, cloud offerings, and open-source solutions. We rely heavily on Trusted Access Platform components, such as Shibboleth and Grouper, and they provide some unique capabilities that are essential for supporting research and academia.”

We asked Tom to weigh in on the importance of his session at BaseCAMP and what attendees will gain from it and the event overall. 

What do you hope BaseCAMP attendees will learn from your session on Identity and Access Management Basics?

TJ: My session provides a broad overview of key concepts in identity and access management. It establishes some common terminology, defines some key strategies, and helps participants understand some of the unique characteristics that make higher education IAM such a challenging and exciting space.

In our introductory session, we’ll establish a frame of reference around identity and security that will help guide our learning through the rest of the week. We’ll learn about the core functions that are present in any IAM practice and how they translate into technical building blocks. We’ll also have an opportunity to meet our peers and get a glimpse of how other institutions assemble those building blocks to support their campus IAM practice.

Why are these important topics to cover?

TJ: Having a broad understanding of the common concepts, terms, and strategies will help new (or new to higher ed) IAM practitioners make sense of this complex space and prepare them for the rest of BaseCAMP (as well as CAMP and Advance CAMP in the future). It also helps to introduce participants to the amazing higher ed IAM community and appreciate how much we have in common.

What do you enjoy most about speaking and teaching on IAM topics?

TJ: I’ve always liked the fact that IAM draws on so many different skills. It requires an understanding of the technologies, but also requires an understanding of security and data management principles and a fair amount of organizational savvy. It’s great to see folks realize how many translatable skills they already have that can be applied to help advance their IAM practices.

What’s the #1 reason IAM professionals should come to BaseCAMP 2022?

TJ: To meet your higher ed IAM Community! BaseCAMP is an introduction to the higher ed IAM space, but it’s also an opportunity to meet and hear from peers about the issues they face and how they’re advancing their programs. A large focus of the program is in making connections that will last beyond the week, so that learners can engage with the community through other venues like CAMP, Advanced CAMP, and working groups, etc. The ability to engage with other institutions working on similar problems is one of the most valuable parts of BaseCAMP.

Fun Facts About Tom

Favorite Superhero: Spiderman (He’s got a relatable amount of chaos in his life.)

How You take Your Coffee: Frequently, and without embellishment

Best IAM Advice You Ever Received (& from where): “One of the greatest security threats facing our institutions is the threat of security getting in the way of the institution.” (Paraphrased from Tom Barton at the University of Chicago)

Meet Tom and 20+ other speakers at InCommon BaseCAMP 2022!