Following the recent news that students can now log in securely to services at other institutions using a single identity thanks to a new partnership between SURFnet, eduGAIN and several universities abroad we now proudly announce that a similar set-up has been established in the setting of an international research organization as well.
The WeNMR project, a three-year FP7 project, has been set up to optimize and extend the use of high-end solutions and techniques such as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Small-Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) to determine the structure and properties of proteins and other medically important molecules. The project has built a Drupal based platform integrating services and streamlining the computational approaches necessary for data analysis and structural modelling, making efficient use of the infrastructures of The European Grid Infrastructure (EGI), SURFconext and eduGAIN.
With this set-up researchers from various research institutes across Europe can use their own trusted institutional account to obtain single sign-on access to various services. For WeNMR administrators this approach offers the advantage to enrol users from abroad and validate their authenticity by re-using institutional credentials. This way, identity management and trust can for a large part be managed, processed and handled by the identity provider (the user’s home institution) while research groups and researchers can focus on those issues they should focus on.
SURFconext and eduGAIN middleware infrastructure
As this project illustrates, there is technology and infrastructure available to lower the access to shared resources while at the same time the burden of tedious account management by virtual research organization coordinators can be minimized. In the Netherlands, the service to enable this was offered by SURFconext: the infrastructure allowing education and research institutions to connect with various participating service providers. Thanks to the eduGAIN infrastructure, this functionality is now available on an international scale. Basic setup: WeNMR (service provider, collaboration hub), SURFconext and eduGAIN (middleware providers/co-ordinators) Universities across Europe (identity providers, work in progress)
WeNMR Drupal Portal, a central entry point
Single Sign-On (SSO) federations like SURFconext are built on the SAML 2.0 protocol. Using the SAML 2.0 Web SSO profile, it is easy to build in SSO support in web(-based) applications. High-end appliances like the GRID provided by WeNMR usually lack the support for web authentication protocols. To circumvent this the WeNMR team created a Drupal module for Single Sign On for external Services (SSOXS). This SSOXS module successfully extends Drupal to serve as a SSO authentication, central user management and accounting portal for the external web servers or services of the project. WeNMR Drupal Page with overview of linked external services
Legal entity and Trust framework
Want to read more?
- WeNMR SSOXS Drupal Module
- SAML for dummies blogpost
- SURFconext and non-web clients blogpost
- Article about WeNMR in Science Guide
- Article about WeNMR in EGI (European Grid Infrastructure)