SAFIRE Project Update

 In News

Objective for SAFIRE in 2015/2016

The pilot phase of the SAFIRE project ended on the 28th February 2015. Since then, the goal of the project has been to transition from the pilot into a production level system. Five main tasks are involved in achieving this goal:

  1. Developing the tools and process that make it easy (almost trivial), to become a service provider or an identity provider in SAFIRE
  2. Develop a financial sustainability model for SAFIRE
  3. Formalise the​ requirements to become part of SAFIRE
  4. Complete the branding effort for SAFIRE and make it well known within South African academia
  5. Provide training for IT staff at institutions on how to participate in the project as well as training for users at large regarding the workings and benefits of SAFIRE.

Methodology

New project streams were created to focus on the specific objectives defined above. Namely:

  1. The Technical Stream, to focus on the technical and architectural aspects of SAFIRE
  2. The Financial Stream, to focus on the obtaining finances of the project
  3. The Governance and Policy Stream, to focus on the policy aspects of the project
  4. The Marketing and Communications Stream, to run with the branding and communications efforts of the project
  5. And the HCD stream, to focus on the training aspects of the project.

Update on the Technical Stream

A technical planning meeting was held on the 21st July 2015. A number of institutions opted to take the lead in the SAFIRE effort and came together to decide on the technical future of the project. A number of important decisions were made:

  • The current mesh federation is to be replaced with a hub-and-spoke federation. To achieve this, negotiations are under way between SAFIRE and the existing federation in Denmark, WAYF.
  • The core attributes for SAFIRE were agreed upon by the lead institutions.
  • Infrastructure to be used by SAFIRE is to be procured and deployed strategically at diverse locations within South Africa. TENET will drive this effort
  • TENET will hire a dedicated resource for SAFIRE to drive the project during its operational phase.

Update on the Governance and Policy Stream

In becoming a mature federation, each participating institution needs to be able to trust the other institutions that form the federation. This trust is mediated by the policies that are signed by all parties in the federation. The following decisions were made regarding the policy for SAFIRE:

  • To reduce the barrier for entry into the Federation, institutions will initially only have to commit to using the best effort principle to comply with the requirements of the policy. This will continue until a stage where each institution can comply to the policy, or until a set date.
  • The current policy is to be vetted by TENET’s lawyer
  • To make the operation of SAFIRE easier, each legal entity (institution) will only be allowed one (1) IdP

Update on the Financial Stream

SAFIRE was self-funded by the SANReN Competency Area and the other institutions that participated in the project during the pilot phase. This allowed SAFIRE to demonstrate the value it would provide to the community. However, this self-funded model would not work once the service becomes operational. As such the following decisions regarding funding SAFIRE were made:

  • The lead institutions will fund SAFIRE during this transitional phase. Once operational, each participating institution will have to pay a yearly fee. The model for this yearly fee is still to be decided.
  • TENET will be the body that will recover the costs for SAFIRE
  • Only incurred costs will be recovered from the institutions.
  • TENET will cover the cost of the resource that it has been tasked to hire from these recovered costs.

Update on the Marketing and Communications Stream

The University of Cape Town (UCT) supported SAFIRE with its branding efforts. The SAFIRE logo, as well as the colour scheme and the tag-line were developed and agreed upon by the steering committee. UCT is also running a process to update the SAFIRE website to reflect the new branding. Finally, TENET has begun the process of registering/trade marking the SAFIRE brand.

Update on the HCD Stream

Once the new hub-and-spoke architecture of SAFIRE is completed, the process of training the IT staff from universities can begin. The stream lead is busy negotiating for the training material from existing federations from Australia and Denmark. In addition to this, SANReN’s participation in the SciGAIA and MAGIC projects gives it the opportunity to attain training materials to be used for SAFIRE purposes.

Other Updates

The following miscellaneous activities are also underway:

  • SAFIRE is in the process of joining eduGAIN
  • SAFIRE is in discussion with RIMS to add them as a service provider
  • Four (4) new institutions are in discussion with SAFIRE to become identity providers: TUT, WITS, UP and SKA.
  • TENET has advertised a vacancy for the SAFIRE Project Director at the following link: http://www.tenet.ac.za/doc/vacancy-safire-project-director