CERN signs up to SWITCH to improve access to online services

SWITCH enables collaborators to access online services at participating research institutions in Switzerland with a single username and password


CERN offers a wide range of online services to its community, including email, electronic document handling, data management, and much more. Thanks to CERN’s single sign-on technology, these can already be accessed using just one set of access credentials. However, an agreement signed with SWITCH, the national research and education network of Switzerland, means that access to such online services is about to get even easier, particularly for CERN’s many off-site collaborators.

CERN has signed up to use the SWITCH Authentication and Authorization Infrastructure (SWITCHaai), which enables collaborators to access online services at participating research institutions in Switzerland via a single username and password. This means that they will be able to access a range of CERN’s online services without having to sign up for a CERN account. Equally, the move means that certain CERN members of the personnel will now be able to use their CERN single sign-on credentials to access online services provided by other participating research institutions and universities in Switzerland. The SWITCHaai technology is already extremely popular across the country, where it is used daily by almost 98% of Swiss university members.

“International collaboration plays an essential role in our scientific activities,” says Frédéric Hemmer, head of CERN IT department. “Joining the SWITCHaai federation is an important step as our community will be able to connect in an easier way to our services and resources thanks to the use of a single set of access credentials. ”

The agreement with SWITCH has important benefits for the worldwide CERN research community. Through SWITCHaai, researchers will have access to EduGAIN, a Europe-wide identity federation created by the GÉANT project. This means that CERN collaborators at institutions across the globe will be able to access CERN’s online services using the access credentials from their home institutions. Again, the agreement is a two-way street: certain CERN members of personnel will also be able to access selected services provided by the other institutions participating in EduGAIN through their national federations.

“Identity federation is a key topic for computing in the coming years,” says Romain Wartel, the security officer of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid at CERN. “It enables people and services to be connected on a large scale in a convenient and efficient way, opening new possibilities for research communities.”

"SWITCH strongly believes that federated identity provides many benefits for the large distributed scientific collaborations and projects that have been characteristic of high-energy physics for many years,” says Christoph Witzig, head of Central ICT Providers at SWITCH. “As such, SWITCH is happy that CERN has decided to join the SWITCHaai federation and is looking forward for a mutually beneficial collaboration."