A pathfinder project for a National AAAI

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


The RCUK National e-Infrastructure projects wish to propose to undertake pilots to demonstrate the proposed access and resource management infrastructure works in several common research settings, especially in areas where data must be securely accessed, stored and transported.

The pilots will integrate 2 key existing Authentication, Authorisation and Accounting Infrastructure (AAAI) technologies, Assent and SAFE. The Authentication Service Assent is already in service at a number of institutions and Safe Share will be deployed, subject to successful pilots, at eMedLab (Crick/UCL), Farr Institute (London, HeRC, Wales and Scotland) and the Administrative Data Research Network. The Authorisation and Accounting service SAFE is currently used by Archer, DiRAC and the Hartree Centre.
The proposed pathfinder initiative will pilot the integration of these capabilities as a significant step towards implementing a coherent National Authentication, Authorisation and Accounting Infrastructure that serves the needs of UK and international research collaborations.
To deliver our vision of opening up access to the National E-Infrastructure we need to take these individual pieces and integrate them into a UK-wide service, which will also be compatible with EU and international projects' access and resource management services. This will allow us to then roll out a robust user management system across the National E-Infrastructure for both academic and industrial partners. The development of a final national solution is complex and by its nature cannot be quick. It must fit with European and global advances and requires international trust agreements. In order to move towards this, we propose this pathfinder project, which will utilise existing developments and provide a first working service on the National E-Infrastructure.

Planned Impact

This pathfinder will build on and integrate the following existing capabilities:
Jisc's Assent service, to provide users with a common, single sign on mechanism that integrates with institutional identity management systems to confirm a researcher's identity; and its peer systems overseas.
Existing virtual organisation (VO) systems, such as the EPPC's SAFE management infrastructure.
A High Assurance Network and two-factor authentication, where appropriate, for secure data access and transport e.g. JISC's SafeShare service.
Four work packages are proposed to undertake this integration work and pilot the services in the field at sites across the RCUK domain.
The cost to RCUK will be £173932 over 10 months.
The outputs will be secure and very secure versions of a common AAAI application which integrates Assent and SAFE. This will also be able to federate with SAML and X.509 identity management systems which is a requirement for international collaborations.
A technical design and business case for a proposed National AAAI service will be produced.


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Description AAAI for the UK NeI 
Organisation Jisc
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution PI of RCUK pilot project for AAAI
Collaborator Contribution Software development and testing at 8 UK HEIs and ROs
Impact SAFE+ASSET AAAI service
Start Year 2016