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New InCommon Catalyst Instrumental Identity Brings Strong Ties to Higher Ed and the Open-Source Community



Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

By Apryl Motley, InCommon Communications Lead

Mark Earnest recalls delivering some of the first presentations of his IT career during InCommon BaseCAMP and Advanced CAMP in the early 2000s. Now a seasoned IT professional, Mark is CEO of Instrumental Identity, the latest provider to join the InCommon Catalyst Program.

“Given our team’s background in university IT and identity management, we naturally gravitated towards this space,” Earnest said of the company’s decision to join the program. “Working with numerous Internet2 member institutions over the years solidified our interest in this sector. We have long recognized that the needs of higher education were not fully understood nor adequately addressed within the vendor and consulting communities.”

Participation in the InCommon Catalyst Program positions Instrumental Identity for even greater collaboration with the research and higher education (R&E) community.

InCommon Catalyst
Mark Earnest smiling for a photo
Mark Earnest

A Time of Transition

Instrumental Identity, an independent consulting company providing identity and access management (IAM) services ranging from health checks on existing implementations to IAM roadmap planning, joins the program at a critical juncture.

Instrumental ID logo

This is an exciting time in identity management in general, but we are also seeing it as a transitional period for higher education as well,” Earnest explained. “Universities are being asked to do more with less across the board but still maintain a computing environment that is paradoxically both open and secure.”

“We have recently released several open-source plugins for commercial IAM tools and are now looking to expand our offerings for midPoint and other open-source solutions as well; particularly around the automation of testing, validation, and deployment of these solutions,” he continued.

Collaboration, Cooperation, and Connections 

The members of the Instrumental Identity team have strong ties to the open-source community, and many have university IT backgrounds. With that comes a commitment to collaboration and cooperation. 

“We believe strongly in collaboration, cooperation, and knowledge sharing,” Earnest said of his team. “We hope to contribute by sharing our experiences and insight gained from implementing IAM programs at universities over the years as well as continuing to release open-source solutions developed in response to higher education needs.” 

Through the years, the team has also helped its clients make connections with each other. “We have often arranged meetings between our clients who share challenges from the high-level and strategic down to the highly technical,” Earnest shared. “My hope is that we can continue doing this on a larger scale with the broader InCommon community. Beyond that, I hope we can continue to act as a facilitator between many of the commercial vendors we work with and higher education while expanding our work with open source through InCommon’s software solutions”  

Launched in June 2021, the InCommon Catalyst Program assists higher education institutions, research organizations, and sponsored partners in their efforts to enable better security, access to services, and user experience through InCommon’s integrated service and software solutions.

Internet2 is pleased to welcome Instrumental Identity to the program as the newest InCommon Catalyst. “We are excited to have Instrumental Identity join the Catalysts and contribute to the InCommon community,” said Ann West, associate vice president for trust and identity at Internet2. “Campuses are asking for help from consultants who have experience working with both commercial and open-source IAM solutions. The Instrumental Identity team is another Catalyst partner that can help the InCommon community choose the right tools for the right IAM job.”

Ann West, Internet2
Ann West

InCommon Catalysts Are Here to Help

Instrumental Identity joins a group of industry leaders and Internet2 members that actively contribute to IAM within the R&E community. They offer a wide range of IAM support services – combining their knowledge of InCommon’s integrated service and software solutions and familiarity with the challenges and requirements specific to the research and education ecosystem. 

If you’re interested in leveraging the experience and expertise of an InCommon Catalyst to solve a particular challenge or devise a roadmap for a full IAM reboot, feel free to reach out directly.

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