SWish: South West Implementation of Shibboleth
The University of Exeter has been using Athens DA for authenticated access to electronic resources since 1994. With the JISC investigating Shibboleth as a possible successor to Athens, the primary activity of the SWISh project will be to pilot an authentication/authorisation system for electronic resources based on Shibboleth. A secondary activity will be to explore the use of Shibboleth within the institution, with possible integration with the University portal, the institutional VLE and the Library management system.
Aims and Objectives
The aim of the project is to implement a Shibboleth pilot service at the University of Exeter, involving registered members of the University based in Exeter, within the Peninsula Medical School (PMS) and the Peninsula Allied Health Collaboration (PAHC), and at the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) campus in Cornwall. It will also investigate possible integration with the University portal, being developed by our XPort project, and its potential to interact with other campus services, including our VLE service and the Library Management System (produced by Innovative Interfaces). The SWISh Project will explore and disseminate the issues arising from these developments and will run through a number of phases, widening the implementation of Shibboleth across partner institutions and collaborations in the south west. The specific objectives are to:
- Establish a Shibboleth server and develop the means by which the service may be offered to users. It will also establish the necessary data flows between relevant University departments.
- Implement a pilot service to a small constituency of Exeter-based users (both student and staff) and subsequently explore and refine the resulting service.
- Further refine the Shibboleth service, expand the first pilot to a greater constituency, and extend the pilot to valid constituencies in the PMS, PAHC and CUC initiatives.
- Investigate the possible use of Shibboleth in relation to the University portal, being developed by the University of Exeter XPort project, and its potential to interact with other campus services, including the VLE and the Library Management System.
- Disseminate the findings of the project as widely as possible and engage in relevant consultations and discussions to support the wider implementation of Shibboleth in UK higher education.
A key issue is the distinction between identity provision (the technical solutions) and service provision (organisational and legal solutions). The two areas have differing priorities, resourcing issues and approaches. With that in mind, it is anticipated that the early adopter project will proceed in four phases, with a documentation and dissemination phase interwoven throughout:
- Installation and implementation of a Shibboleth service for access to electronic resources;
- First pilot – to a select group of users on campus;
- Second pilot – to an extended constituency on campus and also in the Peninsual Medical School, Combined Universities in Cornwall and Peninsula Allied Health Collaboration;
- Integration investigation – primarily in relation to the XPort project, the institutional VLE and the Library Management System.
Whilst the work is necessarily technical, a study of the information flow requirements for the service will be integral to the project – an example where service provision underpins identity provision and is therefore mission critical.
Implications / Deliverables / Stakeholders
The main outcome of the project will be the exploration of the technical, procedural and attribute management issues related to the implementation of Shibboleth within a higher education (and collaborative) context, and the dissemination of the developments and findings that the new middleware will provide, particularly within the South West. For the key stake-holders, namely members of the University of Exeter (across the project and all 'partner' institutions), the key deliverable will be a Shibboleth-enabled access system for electronic resources, and possible wider use of Shibboleth technologies within the wider campus context.