Community News T&I Incubator

Introducing the Trust & Identity Incubator

On 5 April, the GÉANT Trust & Identity Incubator presented its very first “Sprint Demo” showcasing the first results of the Incubator. This blog will tell a little bit about the T&I Incubator and its methodology.  Our followup blog will showcase the first results.

The Trust and Identity Incubator (GN4-3 WP5 T2) is a novel way for dealing with new and potentially disruptive topics in the GÉANT project in the Trust and Identity space in Research and Education.

The T&I Incubator investigates new technologies that currently have no place (yet) in the services ecosystem of the GÉANT project. This may include testing and experimenting with totally new concepts, but also investigating new features for existing GÉANT services. Business case development for potential new services and developments that would improve data protection and privacy aspects are also in scope.

Activities and Sprints

During the course of the GÉANT 4-3 project, the Incubator runs a number of sequential “Activities”. An Activity typically lasts 6 months, during which the team focuses on a number of topics, about 4 to 6, in parallel. The development process used for this engagement is a loose implementation of the Scrum development methodology.

During the activity the team uses Sprints. A Sprint is a time-boxed effort where a team works on a specific set of stories. One team member, the Principe Investigator (PI) defines the work for a topic, by describing specific stories to work on in the Activity Backlog. The PI also determines the priorities between the stories. In the spirit of the scrum methodology the team itself is responsible for planning of the work in the Sprints, based on the prioritized story list in the Backlog. The work planned ends up in the Sprint Backlog, and now the team is ready to engage with a sprint. After running for 4 weeks, a sprint is completed, and the results are presented in a Sprint Demo. Completing this Sprint cycle for 6 times completes an Activity.

When an Activity comes to an end, the results of the activity are evaluated by the Incubator Advisory Board. This board consists of a broad group of senior members of the GÉANT Trust & Identity community, aided by a few subject matter experts from outside of GÉANT, including Internet2, the research communities and an NGO. Based on the evaluation, it is decided how to proceed with the topic.

The T&I Incubator ‘Pipeline’

One of the challenges for the incubator is to remain relevant over a 4 year period. To this end, the incubator takes an agile approach towards the topics it is working on. A list of potential topics is kept in an Incubator wide ‘ backlog’ , called the Pipeline.

The initial set of topics for the Pipeline was drafted based on the Trust and Identity Whitepaper which was written near the end of the GÉANT 4-2 project, as well as some work from GN4-2 that was handed over to the Incubator. Another source of items for the pipeline are the result of the recommendations from the Incubator Advisory Board at the end of an Activity. The Incubator Advisory Board may also suggest new ones topics in case they feel these are relevant to our community. Finally we also intent to let NRENs bring in new topics directly. The procedure for that will be the topic of a future blog.

To help prioritize the topics in the Pipeline, the Incubator Advisory Board periodically reviews the Pipeline and and makes a recommendation to the Incubator management before the beginning of a new Activity cycle. The Incubator management then decides what will be topics for the new cycle, taking into account both priority as indicated by the Advisory board, but also resource availability and available expertise. If needed the Incubator team is extended with one or more so called mentors, who can provide the team with additional subject matter expertise so deal wit a specific topic.

Sprint Demos open for all

The Incubator aspires to be as much as possible an open environment. To this end, the Incubator tries to, whenever possible, engage relevant other stakeholders such as people from the broader GÉANT community or specialist working groups, like e.g. from REFEDs. In addition our monthly Sprint Demos are open to everybody who is interested to attend. Date and time for the incubators are published on the GÉANT Trust & Identity Incubator wiki pages.



About the author

Niels van Dijk

Niels van Dijk is a technical product manager Trust and Security at SURFnet, the Dutch National Research and Educational Network.
Niels has been working in the GÉANT project for many years. Previously he led the service development of both the eduTEAMS service as well as the InAcademia simple validation service.
In the current GÉANT 4-3 project he is the work package lead for the Trust and Identity Incubator, which investigates new technologies that currently have no place (yet) in the services ecosystem of the GÉANT project.

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