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TIER Project Issues Final Report

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The time involved in installing and configuring key software components has been significantly reduced, and training opportunities have expanded to help organizations come up to speed more quickly. Those are two of the findings of the final report from the Trust and Identity in Education and Research (TIER) program.

The report was delivered to the chief information officers of the 49 higher education institutions that committed three-year funding since 2015 to support the TIER effort. The report (available on the Internet2 website) captures a short history of the program, its accomplishments, metrics on key activities, and a financial overview. 

The TIER program grew out of campus discussions and the desire to transform various free-standing open-source software components into an identity and access management suite. All of the software components, and the entire TIER program, were developed by higher education organizations and their partners to solve its unique needs.

“The TIER program represents the best that the Internet2 and InCommon communities have to offer — the spirit of innovation, partnership, and inter-institutional collaboration that provides mission critical services to help move the research and education community forward,” commented Klara Jelinkova, vice president for international operations and IT & chief information officer at Rice University, who chaired the TIER Community Investors Council, which guided the program through its three-year history. 

Key TIER software components include:

  • Shibboleth, providing secure single sign-on capabilities.
  • Grouper, an enterprise access management service.
  • COmanage, which can be used to create accounts and control access to services.
  • midPoint, which can synchronize and manage identity data from multiple databases or other sources.

The TIER program’s accomplishments include: 

  • Reducing the installation and basic software configuration time from several hours to less than 10 minutes. 
  • Adding capability to provide access for end-users while also increasing security by removing access when appropriate.
  • Providing the capability of managing access for guests, collaborators or third parties as well as students, faculty, and staff. 
  • Preconfiguring connections with global federations (adhering to community practices).
  • Jump starting a program to help organizations adopt the software and move to production faster, including training, documentation and consulting.
  • Building enforcement of community metadata requirements into InCommon Federation operations.

“Much of this work was accomplished through hours of community design, architecture, and best practices discussion,” added Steve Zoppi, associate vice president of services integration and architecture at Internet2. “To date, there are over 100 TIER component packages actively being run in testing, production or training.”

With TIER’s successful conclusion in 2018, the software suite has transitioned to become the InCommon Trusted Access Platform. The InCommon community will provide continued development and management of the identity and access management suite.