OK – I can hear you. No-one has kidnapped me and forced me to write this blog 😉 Maybe I am just in a happy mood because I go on holiday for the first time in ages at the end of this week, but today I have most been thinking about how much I love my job.
There are not many people who get the opportunity to work on a project that has an impact on every educational institution in the UK. OK, some institutions may see this as a negative impact, but the mere opportunity to do a piece of work that involves this many people is a real privilege. The reward of seeing the membership numbers and implementations going live in the UK federation is even better.
When I first starting looking at federated access, I spent a lot of time talking about the benefits of open standards. I can remember very well a couple of senior people within the community saying it was all very well talking about the moral benefits of standards, but they had to live in a business world. I think the federated access community has proved that open standards have a real business benefit. They really do prevent vendor lock-in, and have allowed us to implement a very technology neutral approach to the UK federation which means we get to work with everything from open-source software like shibboleth, through commercial offerings like OpenAthens, to emergent solutions such as the Semantico developments and the Atypon SP implementations. It has also lead to the use of Protect Network, TypeKey and OpenID in the federation…all be it on a small scale. I think this is an area that will grow.
We have built up a true community of practise, which is the holy grail for any JISC Programme of work. The jisc-shibboleth list is full of really enthusiastic and helpful people at institutions throughout the UK, willing to help and support other institutions throughout the UK – without a bah humbug insight 😉 It has also led to local initiatives like McShib.
I get to work with some fabulous people from all around the world who are contributing their efforts to making federated access a better experience and all share their hard work happily and freely with colleagues from other countries.
I’ve even managed to get an IdP up and running within the JISC Executive, and I am now working on federating our apps so it almost feels like I am out there in the real world sharing your problems once more!