Home | News & Events | Events | 2009 Events | NISO Webinar: SSO Authentication

Single Sign-On Authentication:
Understanding the Pieces of the Puzzle

February 11, 2009
1:00 - 2:30 p.m. (Eastern Time)

About the Webinar

This year, NISO is proud to introduce the NISO Chair's Initiative. The Chair's Initiative is a project of the chair of NISO's Board of Directors, focusing on a specific issue that would benefit from study and the development of a research study, recommended practice, standard, or similar. This year, Oliver Pesch (Chair, NISO Board of Directors, and Chief Strategist, EBSCO Information Services) has identified user authentication as the issue that he would like to see that NISO address, and specificially the question of "perfecting single-sign-on (SSO) authentication to achieve seamless item-level linking through SSO technologies in a networked information environment."

This webinar is the first step in addressing the issue of SSO authentication. It is essential that we look to the issue as a community, considering how it fits into the larger landscape of use. And to do that effectively, we first need to clearly define the problem and together take ownership of the problem.

Accessing information in a networked environment has been a reality for most user communities for over a decade. With the advent of hosted aggregated full text databases and the proliferation of e-journals and e-books, a user's search for information takes him or her to a number of different online hosts and platforms. When those information resources are commercial products, each platform requires the user to be authenticated, and as a result, that user may have a different identity on each platform. The problems caused by having to manage multiple identities have led to the development of so-called "Single Sign-On" (SSO authentication) technologies, such as Athens and Shibboleth. With these technologies, the user can access all compliant content platforms using the same identity. But SSO authentication is no easy problem. Like a puzzle, the problem of user authentication has many pieces—institutional affiliation; authentication method; various discovery and content provider platforms; the impact of crossing over and using different sources, search engines, computers, or locations... the list goes on and on. And even when we start to understand all those pieces, we are still left with the problem of putting them together—trying to make them fit in order to see the big picture and solve the puzzle. This event will aim to look at how the theory behind a pure technical implementation is broken and why so that we can then take that next step of asking, "How can we make this better?"


1:00-1:05 p.m.: Welcome & System Overview

1:05-1:15 p.m.: Introduction

Todd Carpenter, NISO Managing Director

1:15-1:35 p.m.: Library Perspective
How does SSO authentication fit into libraries and libraries' service to their patrons?

Adam Chandler, Coordinator, Service Design Group, Digital Library and Information Technologies, Cornell University Library
Steven T. Carmody, IT Architect, Computing and Information Services, Brown University -- Mr. Carmody will present on and be available for questions related to Shibboleth and InCommon

1:35-1:55 p.m.: Authentication Tool Perspective
How are authentication tools/softwares expanding into SSO authentication? In this presentation, you will hear about Athens/OpenAthens and the speakers' experiences and views on trends both in the UK and internationally; about broader trends in Access and Identity Management technology and standards and potential implications; and about specific challenges around usability, taking deep-linking as key example.

  • Keith Dixon, Access & Identity Management, Eduserv
  • David Orrell, Identity Systems Architect, Eduserv
  • Lyn Norris, Athens Manager, Eduserv
1:55-2:15 p.m.: Content Provider Perspective
When authentication fails, the opportunity to reach the user -- and for the user to access the publisher or content provider's resource—is lost. Learn more about just how big a problem this and how seamless sign-on can help.
Jerry Ward, ProQuest Platform Product Manager
2:15-3:00 p.m.: Q&A; and Wrap-up


If paying by credit card, register online.

If paying by check, use this PDF registration form.


  • NISO Member
    • $79.00 (US and Canada)
    • $94.00 (International)
  • NASIG Member
    • $79.00
  • Non-Member
    • $99.00 (US and Canada)
    • $114.00 (International)
  • Student
    • $39.00

Additional Information

  • Registration closes at 12:00 pm EST on February 11, 2009.
  • Cancellations made by February 4, 2009 will receive a full refund. After that date, there are no refunds.
  • Registrants will receive detailed instructions about accessing the webinar via e-mail the Monday prior the event.
  • Registration is per site (access for one computer) and includes access to the online recorded archive of the webinar.
  • Webinar presentation slides and Q&A; will be posted to the site following the live webinar.
  • Registrants will receive access information to the archived webinar following the event.