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A federation operator is an organisation that operates an identity federation. Operation typically includes at minimum:

  • Collecting, processing and republishing federation metadata
  • Common policies and legal frameworks that all federation participants adhere to
  • Guidelines and deployment instructions to operate services in the federation
  • Helpdesk to assist with deploying services and debugging issues


Many federations also offer:

  • A central Discovery Service/WAYF service
  • A guest Identity Provider for users that don't have accounts at participating organisations
  • A test infrastructure and test servicse
  • Hosted Identity Providers
  • Workshops and Trainings


Most academic federations are operated by the national research and education network (NREN). These organisations typically also operate the network connecting the universities and research organisations within a country. A few examples of NRENs that are also the operator of the national federation are shown in the image above.

list of known federation operators in the academic sector can be found on the REFEDS web page.

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