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OpenAthens sprint review headlines

Louise EagleBy Louise Eagle
Category - Blog

Wednesday 16th December 2015

The final OpenAthens sprints of 2015 delivered a number of improvements to our single sign on capability. The team continues to build value from other enhancements delivered earlier in the year.

Create single-sign on connections to other applications used by our customers

Organisations use many other cloud based applications that require usernames and passwords for access. Using tools within the OpenAthens admin area administrators will be able to establish a connection with services that use the SAML access standards and bring these applications into their single sign-on experience. Significant applications now available include virtual learning environments like Moodle and Google applications.

New connections to library management systems

Many customers use different systems to manage and store end user data. Sirsi-Dynix is a leader in library technology and libraries around the world use their software to manage a range of tools. As part of our goal to increase interoperability and to connect easily to different systems used by customers we have used our new connectivity to establish links with Sirsi-Dynix credentials. The development is in its early stages but reflects our commitment to build a powerful and flexible single sign on service that meets our customer needs.

Simple links that establish a consistent syntax for linking out to UK Federation resources

The OpenAthens Redirector created a library of links that routes an end-user to their desired information directly if they are within a specific IP range, or through OpenAthens single-sign on service if they are outside of a recognised IP range. Initially this functionality worked only for OpenAthens resources and resources accessible via a proxy, but new developments now allow this consistent link to redirect end-users using UK Federation resources.

Local authentication via our API

We have continued the development of our authentication API. A new feature enables us to create an OpenAthens session and user account when an end user logs into their organisations portal. This expands the availability of OpenAthens to new customers.

API accessibility

Our API is a key tool in developing the flexibility and power of OpenAthens. We are taking steps to make the API accessible to customers with the knowledge and skills to work with our API to enhance their organisation’s single sign on capability. With great power comes great responsibility so we need to ensure that the API is accessible but with appropriate controls to manage effective and efficient use.

Continued development of our infrastructure

OpenAthens relies on a network of powerful servers to host our software. This year we have been deploying new cloud based servers to ensure continual improvement to our technology. This new architecture ensures we are able to balance the use of our service and keep any disruption to a minimum.

2015 marks the end of my first year with OpenAthens.  In some ways Agile development is similar to Darwin’s theory of evolution. As each sprint delivers small, incremental improvements the pace of change can often seem slow. It is only when you stop and look back you realise how far you have come.

There have been major additions to the service – the Redirector and the ability to connect to local directories from the cloud stand out – and the underlying technical infrastructure of OpenAthens has been given a thorough overhaul. All of this while the usual work on bug fixes and small enhancements continue. Single sign on with OpenAthens is in an exciting place for 2016.


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