Unifying Logins

There are currently a lot of different login systems for websites on campus. We’re working to unify as many of these as we can. There are a few major logins we’ve all been dealing with for a number of years: eCommon’s login, SAML (for Canvas and Google Apps), and my own login for systems like Median. They all have their reasons for coexisting separately, but it’s frustrating to us and to the population at large that we can’t have one single login for all of our websites. Our dream is for you to only have to log in once to be automatically logged in to the entire ecosystem of Emerson online services.

Here in IT we’re proud to announce that we’re beginning work on moving as many websites as we can to the SAML single sign on system that is currently used by Canvas, Google Apps, and ec1880.us. The first major leap was having the existing SAML login system at all, which has been working successfully for a couple of years. It was created specifically because Google Apps for Education required it, and most recently the folks at Canvas said they could use our existing SAML login as their single sign on service. With these two major systems using the same login, we decided it would be best to make one central login server as well. This morning we’ve switched everything that is using SAML from utilizing tagteam.emerson.edu to login.emerson.edu, which is a new, dedicated server for handling logins around the Emerson web space.

I am going to be personally working on porting everything using my custom login system (utilized by Median, services on Tagteam, Bench, and a number of other places) to the SAML login system. We’re also going to look into whether it’s possible to make WordPress (on word.emerson.edu and press.emerson.edu) utilize the same login, as well as possibly eCommon. SAML itself is an open standard for single sign on (SSO) systems, and is used widely by both small and enterprise-level web applications. We are currently utilizing the open source SimpleSAMLphp library to do this at Emerson. You may not know that Google Apps and Canvas are using the same login because ITG and I have customized the login form to change based on what you’re logging in to, which is pretty neat. We want to increase the number of streamlined experiences like this for all of our services.

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