My first time at TNC19, and especially REFEDS 40, was quite an experience and I would like to categorically thank REFEDS and GÉANT for the opportunity and support and especially for the introduction of the REFEDS Distinguished Engineer (DE) Program. I hope this will continue with even more participants being part of this formidable program and experience.
I must admit that the REFEDS meeting was quite terrifying early on especially with the many working groups and persons with impeccable presentations and federation jargon that I must admit was new to me. As time passed on and with personal interactions, I got slowly indulged into this community and did take on my DE presentation with ease.
I got to meet and interact with new people working with mature federations that are probably 10 or more years ahead of RENU Identity Federation (RIF) and with more structured teams and experience. I learnt a lot from them but the take-home was ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. Every extra step adds to the structure and the smaller steps are more founded and bound to tightly strengthen the federation. I also got to learn more about federation architectures which at some point made me rethink on the approaches that RIF had taken but subject to discussion with the technical and administrative teams. There were also good points on services that are relevant to emerging federations for institutional buy-in.
Identity Federations in Uganda have a high potential for adoption especially in the different national sectors but the biggest challenge lies in the technical aspects of the engineering community. I am working on hosting webinars, for example, to discuss identity federations and why they should matter with demos on configuration of some elements of identity federations and updated documentation. Another challenge lies in lack of identity sources with institutions not investing in commercial solutions but also not willing to venture into available open source solutions. We are in discussions with federations with this similar issue, but have addressed it, to deploy and test hosted identity management solutions for a couple of institutions in Uganda faced with this challenge and provide a user friendly and secure interface to manage users.
In my current consultation works with institutions that are planning on identity management solutions, I always discuss the prospects of identity federations and usually prepare them with a notion of ‘Design with Identity Federations in Mind’.