Principles for Higher Ed/Research Middleware

The I2MI intends to facilitate the identification, development and deployment of middleware that supports the research and instructional missions of the Internet2 membership institutions.

Those software systems and associated protocols are guided by the following principles:

1. The software should be loosely coupled. Given the volatility of the technologies and other uncertainties, it is likely that middleware will go through a rapid evolution in the next few years. Universities will want to replace and enhance components without having to redo the entire infrastructure.

2. Software deployments should demonstrate early wins. With the political aspects in middleware deployment, it will be very useful to show immediate benefits of first components and help motivate the significant institutional investments that will ultimately need to be made. Individual components should have value in themselves as well as in concert.

3. Make software as economically and technically cheap as possible. IT organizations in higher ed have limited resources. Financial stresses and employee retention issues suggest keeping software and expertise costs low.

4. The software systems should accommodate the distinctive aspects of higher ed. There are a number of relatively unique characteristics in the higher education IT environment, including the migratory workstation habits of students, the traditions of academic freedom and privacy, and the legal requirements of public institutions. Middleware solutions must accommodate the special aspects of higher education.

5. The software should be easy to use. End-users prefer natural naming and intuitive tools. Users may not be able to handle complexity in management of middleware components or personal data.