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20 October 2006
Advanced EuroCAMP Focuses on Moving Towards Confederations

The Advanced EuroCAMP (European Campus Architectural Middleware Planning) workshop concluded yesterday attracting 70 participants, many of whom are key in the technical deployment of federations in Europe, US, Australia and Grid. The fourth EuroCAMP was organised by TERENA and hosted by the University of Malaga in the former post office building of Malaga, Spain. The theme of the workshop was "Moving Towards Confederations". It focused on the technical and policy aspects involved in the deployment of the federated federations, otherwise known as ‘confederations’. Attendees were provided with not only examples from the academic community in Europe, but also from the United States and Australia as well as those established by some governments.

Unlike previous EuroCAMP workshops, the event was more of a forum for discussing issues related to peering of different federations, the various aspects involved in the deployment of federations such as policy, technology, drivers for federations and their actual usage (both from services and users point of view) were explored.

On the first morning, attendees were given an overview of the essential ingredients for federations. Julie Frøseth (UNINETT) presented the drivers for federating in Norway, while Diego López (RedIRIS) and Bob Morgan (University of Washington) presented the technical issues of setting up federations. Thomas Lenggenhager (SWITCH) and James Farnhill (JISC) outlined some of the policy and legal issues related to setting-up federations specific to their countries.

Mikael Linden (FUNET) presented the latest version of the SCHAC (SChema Harmonisation Committee) Schema which was developed within the TERENA task-force TF-EMC2. Peter Schendzielorz (Macquarie University, Australia) presented ShARPe, the Shibboleth Attribute Release Policy Editor, which allows users (or more in general Identity Providers) to control which attribute to release to access a service.

The second day concentrated on federated peering. Among the topics covered were how to use Shibboleth attributes to access Virtual Organisations (VOs), presented by Peter Schendzielorz; the International Grid Trust Federation (IGTF) and the way they coordinate authentication for Grid projects, presented by David Groep (NIKHEF); and what the DEISA project requirements were for federations and AA, presented by Jules Wolfrat (SARA).

Examples of current federations and confederations, such as eduroam and the recently created eduGAIN (under development within the GÉANT2 project), were provided by Klaas Wierenga (SURFnet) and Diego López.

The afternoon saw a session on privacy and data protection, which plays an extremely important role in the establishment of federations. Francisco Lopez-Carmona (Data Protection Agency Community of Madrid) talked about the government engagement and the general EU directorates in this area, whereas Jaap Kuipers (SURFnet) gave examples of the Dutch experiences with DigID, the authentication system (built on A-Select technology) and used by the Dutch government to allow for on-line tax declaration among other public services.

The two-day programme also included open sessions to trigger discussions about important topics, such as the usage of attributes and schema in the various federations, what services to federate, which policy model to follow and in particular the privacy laws which play a very important role in federations.

Ken Klingenstein (Internet2) chaired an informative panel session which gave an overview of how Federations are proceeding in a number of European countries, including France, Holland, Denmark, Switzerland and Finland. He observed, “We are getting good enough with the pieces (the different pieces of software) that we have, that we are now beginning to understand which pieces are missing to allow for further inter-operability at federation level.  There was a sense of urgency in addressing the remaining gaps in this new infrastructure deployment. Exciting times!”

Ale de Vries, from Elsevier, said "I was very glad to be at EuroCAMP as I was able to explain why we want to be part of a federation that involves the education community, as well as explain what areas we feel are important from a vendor point of view."

EuroCAMP concluded with an open session to discuss how to map the various elements discussed. Many issues were raised during the workshop. It is clear that there are many challenges ahead and still a large amount to be done. The event showed that, when talking about federation and peering of federations, there is great interest from many communities and that collaboration is definitely needed.

The TERENA EuroCAMP workshops started in 2005 and aim to reach out to European campuses to promote middleware technologies and help develop the knowledge and skills that are needed by staff who are involved in the set-up of identity management systems (IdMS) for authentication and authorisation.

More information about EuroCAMP in general, including the slides from Advanced EuroCAMP, please visit http://www.terena.nl/eurocamp/