Identity Management

North Carolina to Test Internet2 Services in K–12, Community Colleges

K–12 and community colleges will get a taste of the power of networking services delivered by Internet2, at least in North Carolina. Under a new proof-of-concept program, schools, districts and community colleges in that state will specifically be able to try out Internet2's identity management service, InCommon Federated Identity Management. FIM, as it's called, is intended to reduce the number of passwords users need to remember, offers new opportunities to share services and software and gives a more seamless transition between one educational organization and another.

The pilot is being undertaken by MCNC, a North Carolina non-profit that connects the institutions of higher education, including those within the University of North Carolina System, Duke and Wake Forest. The education network also hooks into Internet2 along with National Lambda Rail. Over the last several years, MCNC has opened its services up to non-institutional organizations, including non-profit hospitals, libraries and public safety operations.

Internet2 allowed the InCommon service to begin examining outreach to K–12 and community colleges through an "InCommon Steward" program. MCNC will act as a steward to vet the district and community college and operate the identity management infrastructure for those constituents.

As a presentation on the steward community program explained, the advantages are particularly stark as schools move to the cloud for their services. FIM will support access to cloud applications using local authentication systems; it will simplify role-based authorization at scale; and the existing set-up for the InCommon Federation software base, standards and operational processes will "make it all work."

"Trying to extend InCommon to all of K-14 education nationally would be too large to scale. We knew we had to work with our regional network partners that have these key relationships built in," said Ann West, associate vice president for trust and identity at Internet2, in a statement. "InCommon puts the trust in trusted networks, and we're so grateful that MCNC is collaborating with us on a workable solution that benefits both education and the regionals." She added that the work is "generating a lot of interest from other states who are watching this very closely."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.