Single Sign On for non-academic resources

Over the Summer of 2011 De Montfort University’s Libraries and Learning Department has been overseeing the introduction of a Single Sign On service for much of the range of electronic journals and databases to which the university has a subscription. This replaces the Athens accounts which staff and students have been used to using in the past.

Use of Athens accounts would probably have been less familiar for administration staff in the university, unless their roles and interestes called upon use of the academic resources. This may be changing as there is growing interest in using this method of authentication for non-academic resources. For example, the JISC are introducing a new service called ‘GeM’ – a Generic e-Marketplace that will allow users within institutions to take advantage of quick and simple procurement using government procurement cards.

According to the developers @UK:

The eMarketplace is a secure system which enables buyers within the Universities to purchase online from a database of commercial suppliers ranging from large corporations to SMEs. Buying and selling will take place with no paperwork, reducing the chance of errors through transposition, achieving major savings through the supply chain. The marketplace ensures that prices are correct from requisition to payment – unlike catalogue-based marketplaces which cannot support carriage, complex pricing and configurable products.

Once launched, this site will require authentication via the UK Access Management Federation. This is the process that is behind the new Single Sign On service and has already been set up. GeM user will only need to select ‘De Montfort University Library Resources’ (shortcut: just type ‘DMU’) from the list of institutions and login in with the same username and password as they would use for staff email. The interface may ask a further question about their email address, but once that is entered they are able to use the system.

Case study: Journal Usage Statistics Portal

Another example of a non-academic resource is JUSP, the Journal Usage Statistics Portal. It collects and reports on electronic journal usage across a number of platforms and is used by academic and administrative staff in the library. Again this requires authentication via the Single Sign On service, but there are additional restrictions limiting access to library staff. The Single Sign On service has the ability to add individuals to groups and restrict access to only members of that group.

Some new services aimed at university administrative staff may ‘just work’ on release with the Single Sign On service already being recognised as the correct logging in method. Others may, like JUSP, require additional configuration. If examples like this emerge, please contact me via email or phone x6397, and I will be happy to get everything set up.

About Philip Adams

Senior Assistant Librarian at De Montfort University. I am interested in digital preservation and the use of data to measure a library's impact. All comments own.
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