Trust in federated AAI: with a particular attention to SWITCHaai

SWITCHaai has a long and successful history in enabling access to hundreds of mainly academic web resources by reusing the authentication mechanisms at the heart of participating organisations.

When joining the SWITCHaai team a couple of years ago, I noticed two things about trust: a) it was just there, and b) no one talked about it. “Trust is established when no one talks about it anymore” someone said. It made me wonder how such a unique construction could be there and just work. There must have been many detailed questions that had to be resolved to get to that point! My curiosity was piqued, so, I started delving into this fascinating topic. How come all of these many service providers, identity providers, end users, organisations and federation partners, commercial or not, just do what the others would expect from them and don’t break trust?

Let’s start with an overview of the roles within an identity federation and their particular expectations towards each other and the federation as a whole. Continue reading