SWITCH Identity Blog

The Identity Blog puts the spotlight on identity management, digital identities, identifiers, attributes, authentication and access management.


Project approval for “Swiss edu-ID Deployment Step 1”

Back in August 2016, SWITCH and seven partners (EPFL, FHNW, UNIFR, UNIGE, UNIL, UNISG and ZHAW) applied for project funding through in the framework of the P2/P5 programme of swissuniversities. Regular readers of our blog might remember, that we wrote about the submission and the nature of the proposal in the blog post Project for Deployment Step 1 in 2017 submitted which you are encouraged to re-read.

We are delighted to share with you the good news that this project received green light from the “Comité de pilotage du programme CUS P-2” at their meeting on 5 December 2016. This is good news for SWITCH and the university community as well as their stakeholders, as it marks the first of four “deployment steps” to implement the Swiss edu-ID roadmap until 2020.

This week, we received the formal approval letter annexed with an assessment note and additional obligations, which mean some additional homework for SWITCH (clarifications, reporting and project management obligations, as well as accommodating a cut in overall spending). Another good news for our project partners: these obligations are not impacting our partners’ work packages nor do they affect the support they receive from SWITCH.

We are looking forward to start the process of entering the deployment phase of the Swiss edu-ID roadmap and rolling out the SWITCH edu-ID service until 2020.


From project to service – introducing the SWITCH edu-ID service

Autumn 2013. Big things start small. An interuniversity working group captures floating ideas around user-centric identities, puts those ideas into a roadmap and proposes a name for it: Swiss edu-ID. The resulting document becomes one cornerstone of the national strategy, approved by the Swiss University Conference in April 2014. But it also marks the beginning of SWITCH’s efforts to implement the proposed Swiss edu-ID roadmap. swissuniversities supports this collaborative effort of SWITCH and the Swiss universities including their libraries.

Autumn 2016. The pilot service Swiss edu-ID V1.0 is around for well over a year. It allowed us to gain first operational experience in numerous pilot projects and a much clearer picture of what is yet to come. We also learned that some services start to rely increasingly on the availability of Swiss edu-ID, while others care more for the latest feature. Time is ripe to give both a home.

This is why SWITCH starts to use a new, distinct branding for the operational service emerging from the Swiss edu-ID project. The new branding honors the roots by keeping “edu-ID” in its name, but it also shows its operational home, adheres to the service naming guidelines of SWITCH and receives proper legal protection. The user-centric identity management service of SWITCH will be called the SWITCH edu-ID service.

You might notice in the not so distant future, that a new service will pop in the service catalogue of SWITCH, or that the “edu-ID login window” will look slightly different. But one thing won’t change: in its heart, the SWITCH edu-ID still carries those ideas captured in autumn 2013 by an interuniversity working group.


New SWITCH story: “Empowering Swiss research”

The Swiss edu-ID project is partly funded through the funding programme P-2 of swissuniversities. The project manager of P-2, Roland Dietlicher, shares his views on the achievements and challenges of the funding programme P-2 in the latest SWITCH story. In doing that, he also covers the importance of the academic identity Swiss edu-ID to the success of the P-2 programme.


Less hassle, less effort

The Swiss edu-ID can help with a range of problems. The latest SWITCH story highlights two examples:

  • Swissbib allows to search most of the Swiss libraries and repositories at once. Users can specify favourite libraries, save reading lists, view their search history and much more besides. Since Swiss edu-ID users can keep their account for an unlimited time, they no longer lose account data when their employment or student status changes as is the case with SWITCHaai.
  • Roberto Mazzoni, Head of User Services in the Central IT Department at the University of Zurich, points out specific advantages of the Swiss edu-ID with respect to the current situation with SWITCHaai: It simplifies identity management processes and reduces the risk to create duplications.

Please follow this link to access the SWITCH story.


Swiss edu-ID Phase 2 Approved

The Swiss edu-ID project management is happy to announce that we received the approval for the Phase 2 project by swissuniversities (CUS P-2 program) ! The corresponding proposal was submitted in February 2015.

Main goals of Phase 2 (Aug. 2015 – Dec. 2016) are:

  • successful operation of Swiss edu-ID v1.0 and its use cases from phase 1
  • implementation of the Swiss edu-ID v2.0 service with new features
    • connect the Swiss edu-ID platform to institutions (enabling of attribute exchange with Attribute Authorities operated by universities)
    • support for authentication protocols beyond SAML allowing access to non-web resources
  • continuation of community involvement (working groups, events)

Project Abstract

New national services being developed within the frame of the CUS P-2 project will in almost all cases require reliable identity and access management (IAM). The Swiss edu-ID addresses that need, by providing a comprehensive IAM service framework to all relevant players: universities, individuals and service providers.

The SWITCHaai is a well-established IAM solution for the Swiss universities that places identity management under the responsibility of the participating universities and allows for effective resource sharing across organisational borders. However, this approach has several drawbacks:

  • University members with multiple roles or jobs are assigned multiple electronic identities, which need to be managed individually.
  • Individuals lose their electronic identity when they change role or affiliation and are unable to recover the same identity if it is needed at a later date.
  • Individuals collaborating with universities, but without a strong affiliation with one of those universities are not issued such an organisation-centric identity. Almost all resources need to manage this potentially large user group without SWITCHaai support.
  • The existing SWITCHaai service is not perceived to support mobile and other non-web environments adequately.

The Swiss edu-ID is addressing those shortcomings. It does it by building on the very successful SWITCHaai, but changing/extending it in several ways. In the predecessor project “Swiss edu-ID” the basis for a successful continuation was set by completing the Swiss edu-ID high-level architecture, by implementing Swiss edu-ID V0.5 with a new set attributes, and by conducting a market overview of access management platforms. The first important change is delivered by the Swiss edu-ID v1.0 service:

  • All individuals collaborating with our community can get a Swiss edu-ID identity, regardless of whether a user is currently affiliated with an organisation in our community or not.

The project „Swiss edu-ID Phase II“ described in this proposal will implement the Swiss edu-ID v2.0 service with those two additional features:

  • The Swiss edu-ID will carry up to date information about roles and affiliations within the academic community. This information will be provided by those member organisations themselves.
  • The Swiss edu-ID will support the most promising protocols for mobile integration.

Services wishing to make use of the functions offered by the “Swiss edu-ID” will receive consultancy services from the project, get access to the Swiss edu-ID service and the project will seek ways to support use cases needing adaptations or extensions to the existing services. Specific integration work at the user side, however, is not within scope and should be provided by the respective user service. Project management will take appropriate steps to evaluate requests for functional extensions within the governance structures.