The framework will be used by research organisations, improving collaboration between institutes and ensure a high-level of information security.
About the project
The project is taking place over four phases:
We're now in the second phase of the project, the aim of which is to produce a business case and recommendation on how the framework can be achieved. We expect this to be completed by October 2020.
Insights so far
Our expectations are that the national AAAI framework will not be a single central technical implementation, but:
- Composed of a trust framework that provides a set of behavioural standards and a set of technical standards
- A solution that enables interoperability between multiple AAAI services
- A central point of AAAI management that can interoperate with existing solutions currently available and be used by multiple projects and research communities
During the next phase, we will develop and implement a pilot AAAI framework based on the recommendations from phase two. This will take between six to 18 months (depending on what emerges from the previous phase) and will start once approved by the UKRI.
The end of the project will see us deliver a national AAAI framework. This will be based on the feedback from the pilot implementation and is expected this will take 6 to 12 months.
This phase will also confirm who will provide operational support for the framework for the first ten years.
What we have done so far
Over the last ten years we have been identifying and refining requirements and core functionality needed for a national AAAI framework.
The notes from the meetings and discussions have been largely captured in the documents below:
- E-infrastructures: access and security summary paper (pdf)
- Federated authentication for e-infrastructures (pdf)
- Accounting and e-infrastructures (pdf)
We also held a workshop in January 2020, which reviewed use cases not currently catered for within existing infrastructures. Download notes from the January workshop (pdf).
Why AAAI is essential
AAAI is shorthand for Authentication, Authorisation and Accounting Infrastructure. Its growing role as an essential component of the UK’s future national e-infrastructure is a direct consequence of developments over the last three decades in the use of computation and data in the research process.
During this period the core capabilities of the UK’s e-infrastructure (principally data and computational resources, along with high-performance networks) have grown rapidly.
Researchers have been able to stretch their uses of the infrastructure and thereby develop more ambitious approaches to collaborative research. This capability allows access to high-volume, high data- capture rate instruments and the capability of acquiring and processing extremely large data sets.
Beyond this, more and more research domains are developing an extensive array of data sets for their own needs, along with growing complexity and richness. In consequence, the desire to share, collaborate and synthesise data derived from combining data sets is also growing.
Growth in data
This trends have been clearly signposted in the results of the UKRI roadmap work.
All sectors represented highlight a potentially unprecedented growth in data volumes, and in sophistication of the computational hardware and software models that will be used to process it and derive scientific insights. A number of sectors also point to an increasing need to ensure that both data and infrastructure is maintained securely, and for the legal, regulatory and societal aspects of this processing to be managed appropriately.
This presents a challenge to the UK’s e-infrastructure in facilitating reliable, seamless and transparent access to potentially high volume, geographically-distributed and complex data with many owners to distributed and varied communities of researchers who wish to share and work collaboratively and in a secure manner. It is to meet that challenge that an AAAI is an essential component of that e-infrastructure.
Helping UKRI with a solution
To address this challenge at national scale and to deliver a functional, secure and sustainable AAAI will require investments in technology and software, in physical infrastructure and its operation, and in the governance structures that will maintain the system of trust between all component organisations and their individual governances.
This is why it has been essential to include a national AAAI capability as part of the e-infrastructure component of the UKRI roadmap, and why Jisc is helping UKRI to facilitate the work to do this.