What are the benefits of InAcademia compared to national Identity Federation membership?

Merchants are entitled to choose either route, depending on the policies of various local Identity Federations, but taking the local identity federation membership route requires the merchant to maintain registrations and conformance to local policies in every country that they operate in. As such, there are already cases where merchants that had previously joined a local Identity Federation that have since chosen to move to the InAcademia service. Using academic federated identity services can be challenging, and particularly when operating across multiple countries. Merchants have  found the process of engaging to the differing requirements of national Identity Federations difficult. Some national academic identity federation policies require members to approach individual institutions to request ‘opt in’ to their services, and this can be extremely time consuming and very difficult to scale. In contrast, InAcademia provides a uniform technical experience for Merchants, using a familiar single-sign-on user interface to users. InAcademia interacts with the heterogeneous, largely SAML-based landscape of R&E Identity Providers in the background, thus hiding all the complexity that is inherent in the varying policies of federation and identity provider solutions. The InAcademia support team manages this complexity via its close relationship with the academic federated identity community, and is able to connect services in such a way that means they’re available to connect with academic institutions across multiple national identity federations using connection to only one service: InAcademia.

There are various other reasons why InAcademia offers value in cooperation with eduGAIN:

  • Merchants connect to InAcademia using the widely adopted OpenID Connect protocol, and therefore will be more familiar to retailers that have previously implemented single sign-on based on social media services.
  • Where only simple evidence of ‘student status’ is required, InAcademia eases the process in both deployment, connection and maintenance.
  • InAcademia offers an enhanced discovery process, meaning less steps are necessary for users to validate their academic affiliation.
  • InAcademia’s enhanced error handling capabilities improve significantly on the native SAML and OIDC errors, making it much easier for merchants to determine the ongoing workflow for the result of all validation requests.
  • It’s tough for many institutions to support the workload necessary to engage with merchants that want to register as a Service Provider in an Identity Federation; when an Institution accepts the InAcademia service, the Institution no longer has to allocate effort to onboarding specific services, meaning that merchants connected to InAcademia are more likely to be able to reach a wider range of academic institutions than if they were to become a service provider in a federation alone.
  • InAcademia keeps in step with the various developments in policy and technology that would otherwise have to be understood and mitigated in-house by the merchant.
  • The InAcademia brand has been trademarked with the intention to uniquely present to the academic community a trusted and reliable method of proving entitlement to academic offers.
  • Furthermore, we closely collaborate with the research and education community, so there are opportunities to use the InAcademia service and its network of contacts to inform academic institutions that your service is widely available to institutions that have opted into the InAcademia service using trusted methods.
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