June 28, 2005

Benefits of Single Sign On

Follow-up to SSO v3: Federated identity from Kieran's blog

Jeremy Smith has been blogging about his work at CASE a great deal over the last 6/7 months. It's great to read about someone in quite a similar situation to us here at Warwick. He's been working on blogs, single sign on, wikis and just generally thinking about the future of web services and development of systems for universities.

The Benefits of Single Sign On is his most recent article where he sums up quite nicely what is so great about SSO.

Speaking of which…we are very close now. With other distractions, I've not been able to dedicate 100% of my time to SSO over the last couple of months, but the end is near.

One big lesson learnt of the last few months…SSL is not your friend. Doing lots and lots of signing and encrypting XML, mutual SSL authentication and the like is a right royal pain. However, I have finally beaten it into submission and we are now looking pretty ready. There is of course lots of testing still to be done, testing out the conversion of systems from the old SSO to the new SSO (they don't have to be all changed at once, the new system is compatible with the old one, but the new SSO is a hell of a lot better in many ways), load testing and just general checking of my sanity.

The slightly depressing thing is actually that the average user will not really notice a huge difference in the way things work once we roll out the new system. The single biggest difference will be that you will get a full screen to login with rather than a little popup window in the future. But apart from that, the biggest changes are in the background.

For a lot of people though an advantage will be getting rid of your old Athens login/password. During the next academic year, more or less anyone with a Warwick username/password will be able to login to Athens resources with just that set of credentials just like they would into any other SSO protected resource at Warwick (SiteBuilder, Forums, Blogs, etc…).


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