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ITS Strategy & Architecture Posts

Shibboleth IdP Load Balancing

Our test IdP is now a pair of load balanced servers (actually, they're currently two virtual machines on the same physical server, but this is for testing). idp-dev1 and idp-dev2 are running the lbcd service to enable lbnamed failover; the servers are balanced as idp-dev.stanford.edu, which is currently listed in the InQueue and DevFed (our little test federation) metadata.

The load balancing works for Shibboleth's Browser/POST profile, where a Shibboleth handle is passed from the IdP via a browser redirect to the SP; the SP then queries the IdP using that handle. In the basic configuration, each IdP uses an in-memory map of handles to principals. Since all the IdPs in a load balanced pool need access to the same mapping, there's a CryptoShibHandle class that creates a handle by encrypting the principal with a key shared by all the IdPs.

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Emergency Site Setup Notes

The University Communications group requested an off-site web server for publishing updates during a disaster. Bruce negotiated with colleagues at Duke to get a server there; Stanford will return the favor by hosting a server for Duke. We set up a site for an emergency drill, and made some changes based on that experience.

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Connecting WordPress and WebDAV

We've been working on setting up a WordPress blog on a server at Duke to host Stanford's emergency pages. A blog like WordPress makes it easy for staff to update the news site during an emergency. WordPress, like most blog packages, uses its own user database; normally this is a pain to deal with in a single-sign on environment, but it's a handy feature in an emergency system. The Satellite Operations Center also need a place to keep various documents, but a blog is not the best approach. While it's easy enough to add WebDAV support to the server, that would normally mean a separate user database, using either htpasswd or htdigest files. Or, you can use the mod_auth_mysql Apache module and the WordPress database for authentication and authorization.

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