If for example I want to roll out web conferencing tools to a couple of hundred thousand users, and all these users have a federated ID linked with a good attribute set, why should I have to worry about provisioning?  I can have my users log in, transfer the appropriate information as attributes, and then things should work.  And there are at least 15 million federated user in the higher education sector alone, across the federations that we know of.  Why are the solutions emerging so slowly in this market?

We spent the last decade fixing availability of attributes and getting federated IDs deployed, and I would like to reap the benefits I know are lurking in the cloud from this investment:

  1. Federated login without letting the applications see the passwords
  2. Let real-time attribute transfer replace provisioning
  3. Being able to let federated widgets play together to let components form a coherent service, easing integration

Getting back to my current use case on web conferencing tools, I get really frustrated.  Not only with the bad audio, which is seriously annoying, but with the cumbersome deployment issues when rolling out in large communities. As far as I know, there is only Cisco WebEx of the web conferencing tools that have federated login operational on their standard federated plattform.  Some other vendors and solutions are actively investigating federated ID, and have customers who have done on-site extensions with federated login.  Some comments on web meeting solutions I have encountered in the past few months

  • Adobe Connect, a popular solution in higher education for web meetings does not support federated login on their hosted environment.  An example a properly behaved system  is SUNETs Adobe Connect installation where SUNET has added federated login with SWAMID and support for attributes.  Why not on the hosted service?  Will it be too much trouble to get a large amount of users?
  • Elluminate is working closely with several major LMS suppliers (it was bought by Blackboard this summer), and has functionality that is useful for education.  But no federated login – yet.
  • Nefsis is highly loved by the teaching community using it. I have not been testing this system myself.  There is no federated login.
  • NTR-meeting is a lightweight solution for web meetings, simple and easy to use.  Would be even easier if it had federated login.
  • BigBlueButton is open software for web meetings.  Not quite in production yet, and has no federated login.
  • DimDim is also used for distance lectures.  But it has no federated login.
  • Vidyo is tested (I have not tested it myself) by several interested parties.  No federated login reported.
  • EVO from the high performance computing crowd.  Developped within our own community.  Still no federated login.
  • Microsoft OCS may support federated login (codename Geneva), but when I talk to the local guys about this, we have so far spent most of our time explaining that federation does not imply collating Active Directory trees, but is Something Web with XML.

And the service from Skype, useable with good sound when everything else fail: no federated login.  On the other hand, I did not expect Skype to have federated login, as they operate in an environment on individual users.  The ones named on the list above try to deliver services to organizations.  Deployment without federated login is a lot more work than with federated login.  On the other hand, the extra work falls mostly on the deploying organization, so maybe that is why the service providers do not care.