Grouper Groups Management Toolkit

Separate applications may use groups to track an individual’s role, or to determine which users are authorized to access a resource. Since groups are managed separately in each application, keeping the membership roster consistent across these services becomes very difficult. If a member leaves a project, for example, the group’s email list, wiki space, calendar, research database and other shared resources need to be updated separately. Grouper™ solves this dilemma by creating a centralized location for managing groups, and by its ability to define a group once and use that group across multiple applications. Institutions and organizations can set up groups, roles, and permissions for many purposes, such as populating and administering standing committees, ad hoc research teams, departments, or classes. 

What is Grouper?
Grouper is an open source toolkit for managing groups, with standards-based APIs for integration. It is designed to function as the core element of a common infrastructure for managing group information across integrated applications and repositories. Grouper combines multiple sources of group information, both automated and manual, in managing memberships and other group information in a Group Registry, a central information asset complementary to a site's Person Registry. Grouper Groups Management Toolkit developed out of a need for higher education institutions and organizations to manage institutional and personal groups, and to control group access to applications and resources.

Whatever the goal of the Grouper deployment, Unicon provides the expertise required to give the confidence that comes with a professional implementation. Please read about Unicon’s services for Grouper, in the tabs below.

 

Associated Services for Grouper

Consulting for Grouper

Several open source technologies come together to create a secure IT infrastructure. Web single sign-on technology is needed to protect sensitive information. Federated Web single sign-on is needed to help institutions share resources and collaborate in a privacy-preserving manner, across or within organizational boundaries. Group management is needed to control authorization decisions by setting roles and permissions for groups, determining which groups have access to what resources/ applications. Group management also enables collaboration between group members and various groups.

Unicon offers consulting services for adopting the Grouper groups’ management toolkit. Unicon's Services Team supplies the expert guidance, execution, and development necessary to meet the specific needs of the institution or organization, maximizing the results in adopting Grouper.

Evaluation
Whether an institution or organization is in the process of implementing, updating, or maintaining Grouper, assessing and evaluating options can impact the success of the application. Unicon understands the importance of documenting goals, needs, and wants, and offers an evaluation service to institutions and organizations.

The evaluation service is a first-step for providing a snap-shot of where the institution or organization is or to help clarify a need for Grouper. An evaluation session can determine and prioritize the conditions and needs required for a new implementation, update, or customization to an existing Grouper instance. Unicon’s evaluation service includes surveys, reporting, and analysis, all helping institutions and organizations decide their business needs. Unicon also provides best practices for evaluation based on functionality, finances, support/maintenance, performance, usability, and security.

Mentoring
Mentorship assists in knowledge transfer to grow clients’ expertise in Grouper-integrating applications and in developing for and maintaining a Grouper server. General Grouper mentorship affords institutions and organizations access to a Unicon developer/ consultant experienced in working with Grouper. Consultants are made available to assist and mentor staff.

Types of mentoring activities include: answering questions, helping staff execute on Grouper development, providing guidance on Grouper configuration tasks, performing research and producing documentation as requested up to the agreed amount of hours. Mentorship assists in knowledge transfer to grow an institution’s or organization’s staff expertise in the development of Grouper and for maintaining the Grouper instance.

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Customization for Grouper

Unicon offers custom development services to integrate Grouper into the enterprise IT framework. Unicon offers software engineering expertise, to customize Grouper to meet the needs of the client.

Let Unicon deploy the Grouper software and customize it according to group management and access to applications and resources. Whatever the goal of a Grouper deployment, Unicon can provide the expertise required to give clients the confidence that comes with a professional implementation.

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Integration for Grouper

Grouper is an open source toolkit for managing groups and authorization. It is designed to function as the core element of a common infrastructure for managing group information across integrated applications and repositories. Grouper is a valuable part of an institution’s or organization’s identity and access management strategy. Unicon offers a systems integration service to assist with integrating Grouper into the IAM infrastructure.

Grouper provides a way to define a group once and use that group across multiple applications. Integrating Grouper into an institution’s or organization’s IAM infrastructure allows for grouping capabilities for populating and administering standing committees, ad hoc research teams, departments, or classes.

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Solution Delivery for Grouper

It takes skill and expertise to install Grouper in a well-defined, usable manner. Unicon has extensive experience deploying Grouper. Unicon has developed best practices to help facilitate a successful, stable implementation for clients. Unicon’s expert Project Managers guide clients through each phase of implementation, from brainstorming and planning to maintenance and support. While each of these services may be purchased separately, investing in the full package is ideal to avoid common pitfalls and ensure a seamless execution.

A successful deployment depends on taking advantage of the complete set of services listed below.

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Support for Grouper

Protect the investment in Grouper and gain all of the advantages of this open source software designed specifically for institutions and organizations plus top-quality, professional support from a commercial vendor. Unicon’s Open Source Support program is SLA-driven and backed by an accountable team of open source experts. Take advantage of a flexible, customizable open source support service with direct access to dedicated developers, consultants, and system administrators each possessing deep experience within the select open source projects. Get the backing of technical expertise and professional service all at an affordable price.

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Other Services for Grouper

Upgrades
As the open source community continues to make enhancements and adjustments to Grouper, new versions are released. These upgrades can be difficult for institutions or organizations to complete without a strong commercial vendor. Unicon’s services offer an ease of migration to the newest release of Grouper.

Prior to upgrade, Unicon recommends a thorough review of the client's environment, to determine the scope of the upgrade based on the extent of customization. Services can include integration of existing configuration and/or customizations in one or more client environments.

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History of Grouper

Grouper is one of the projects led by the Middleware Architecture Committee for Education (MACE). The Internet2 Middleware Initiative comprises a number of open/community source projects that address challenges in the middleware space, such as identity and access management. Partnering with the Internet2 Middleware Initiative since 1998, MACE consists of a group of U.S. and international higher-education IT architects. To facilitate the consolidated management of groups for the enterprise, the Grouper project grew out of the MACE-Directories Working Group and the realization that more flexibility was needed in managing groups than the functions provided by LDAP directories. Development of the Grouper was supported with funding from University of Chicago and the University of Bristol with additional support from Internet2 through their NSF Middleware Initiative and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).