NSF Middleware Initiative Release 1.0
Wilbert Kraan, CETIS staff
August 27, 2002

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) just released version 1.0 of their Middleware Initiative project. The project and the software is intended to make colloboration and integration of resources easier on the Internet and the Grid: a network of high capacity networks and computers that is used by American research institutions.

The middleware that has just been released will allow applications to smoothly hook into functions like the pooling of network and number crunching capacity, authentication and authorisation of users across the network and resource discovery.

While the immediate impact of the release will be largely limited to institutions that have access to the Internet2 (the 'next generation' internet), the rest of us might want to watch these developments. For one because the technologies developed for Internet2 may trickle down in much the same fashion as the original Internet. For another because Internet2 specs like the EduPerson profile have already influenced wider e-learning specs like IMS Learner Information Profile (LIP). Finally, with regard to this particular NSF release, because the idea of developing open, standards based middleware could be well worth adopting in the wider e-learning sphere. This is particularly true for single sign-on and synchronous collaboration technology, which is the focus of much of the NSF Middleware Initiative.

More information, software binaries and source code are available from the NSF Middleware website.