Simplified: we provide an Authentication & Authorisation Infrastructure-as-a-Service focused on the needs of researchers, research projects and providers of resources for researchers. It takes care of user management. The service name: SURF Research Access Management.
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In the European AARC-project (Authentication and Authorisation for Research and Collaboration) the specific identity and access challenges researchers face are addressed, and they made a clear video about the problem:
AARC crafted a blueprint architecture that addresses those challenges. SCZ is basically doing an implementation of that blueprint.
Researchers have typical access needs that aren't taken care of by the current solutions, and they have documented them in FIM4R-documents (Federated Identity Management for Research). We address a number of those problems in the SCZ-project:
Currently, for every new research the wheel is reinvented to arrange for the things mentioned. Collaborations and research are delayed in the start-up phase because providing access takes time. What if there was a plug and play service?
With the SCZ project, we:
To get an extra idea of what SCZ wants to offer, here we share the 'user stories' (in broad outline) for which we want to offer a solution with SCZ.
Open Access and access regulation mechanisms often go together. Possible scenario's:
Schematically the SCZ can be drawn as follows:
Connects with eduGAIN so that research services are accessible for researchers at institutions outside the Netherlands.
Provides a mechanism (via COmanage) to invite users and manage groups and attributes (a so called 'Membership Management Service').
Provides a solution for people without an edu account to use services (such as via Google and / or other social accounts).
Provides a solution to securely unlock non-web services.
Wondering how a flow of inviting a user to access via SSH looks like? See the below video, but know this is just to get an idea as the environment is developing continuously (if the video doesn't start playing, try opening it full-screen via the icon in the top right corner. The cow-sound at the start of the video is related to the name of the company involved in work on COmanage, Spherical Cow Group of which the name is based on the usage of spherical cow, a humorous metaphor for highly simplified scientific models of complex real life phenomena):
You can also try a demo yourself.
Many federated academic services require a few user attributes to successfully complete login, usually name, email, and a persistent user identifier (called the “R&S attribute bundle”). An international program called the Research & Scholarship Entity Category (R&S) was established to meet this need. This program enables federated services serving a research or scholarly purpose to request that their national R&E federation (as InCommon is for the US) “tag” them with the R&S entity category. It also specifies how R&E federation operators vet such requests to ensure that such tags are only applied to appropriate services.
SCZ only connects services in the R&S category. So IdP's can connect to our proxy, knowing they are compliant to the GDPR in regards to authentication (for processing personally identifiable information (PII) in services connected to our hub, the involved institutions might need extra contractual agreements, which normally are taken care of in the startup phase of research project).
We have a https://wiki.surfnet.nl/display/SCZ/Pilot+partners listing (a part of) the institutions piloting within our project and what is being piloted.
Interested in the components used? See Technical overview of SCZ .
Curious about how you can get started in COmanage? We have organised and provide links to End user documentation SCZ COmanage .
Enabling a service / resource for federated authentication means users can 'login' (authenticate) with their institutional account: as soon as they want to access a service, they are automatically forwarded to the login screen of their institution (or other organisation where they have an account, if that can be used, such as a bank). Reasons to arrange this like this:
The European AARC-project has a training-module on what a identity federation is and what its advantages are: 1. AAI Overview.pdf. More information can be found at these websites: Federation-101 and Training for service providers. See also the advantages for IdP's, SP's and users as listed for SURFconext.
The SCZ can work without institutions releasing attributes; the researcher can use social accounts etc to sign in to the SCZ. But the value for all parties increases when an institution connects its IdP to a service in the SURFconext dashboard; this makes it so the researcher can use the credentials of their home institution, which provides more certainty for the research group and resource providers.
SURF has conducted pilots to also answer this question. In May 2019 representatives of institutions advised/voted to develop SCZ into a production ready service. Our team is working on that, and we hope we will have a production ready service in the 1st half of 2020.
Due to our international relations and activities, we know GÉANT has been gearing up a new service, eduTEAMS. Both our teams have been sharing a lot of knowledge, and there are a lot of similarities. We intend to use eduTEAMS as part of our service offering to Dutch research collaborations. A nice feature is eduTEAMS also offers Hexaa and Perun as alternative Membership Management Services to COmanage (GÉANT has a comparison of the 3 systems).
We have a mailing list for this project. Feel free to sign up for that list via https://list.surfnet.nl/mailman/listinfo/projectscz-fiam . An archive of previously shared messages can be found via https://list.surfnet.nl/mailman/private/projectscz-fiam . Interested? Questions? Suggestions? Mail with Raoul Teeuwen ( firstname.lastname@example.org ).
In June 2017 phase 1 of the project was completed. Phase 2 ended in May 2019 with institutions advising to develop the result of project SCZ to a production ready service. In phase 1, use cases were drawn up and coordinated with a number of cooperative organisations, an architecture was drawn up and needs were assessed. In phase 2 was dedicated to realising the various components and gaining experience through pilots.
Support questions and emails can be directed to email@example.com .