Shibboleth is Open Source software, available under an Apache 2 license. This means that the software can be downloaded and used without paying any fees; the software can also be included in products and resold (as long as the product is not called Shibboleth and the product documentation states that it is derived from Shibboleth. See XXX for more detail.
When a campus is thinking about using the Shibboleth software, however, they have several options available to them. They can:
- Have their staff download and install the software on local machines, and learn how to install and manage the software. This is the "free" model for using open source software; note that this approach places no monetary value on staff time spent learning about the software, or maintaining it on an ongoing basis.
- Buy commercial consulting support to train their staff in the use of the software; additionally, the consultants could perform the initial install and configuration, with the local staff "watching and learning". On an ongoing basis, the local staff would be responsible for managing the software. Several companies are now offering commercial support of this type.
- Pay a commercial consulting group to install and manage the software, running on a machine in your data center. With this approach, the campus could use the Shibboleth software or one of the commercial SAML implementations. Note that all of the commercial and open source implementations are likely to interoperate on the wire; however, they all offer different "value-add" functionality outside the protocol implementations (often in the management and user experience areas). Go HERE to read why we think Shibboleth is a good match with the needs of the Higher Education and Research Areas.
- Outsource the operation of your campus Identity Provider to a commercial provider. In this model, campus staff would be involved in integrating the outsourced IDP with existing campus infrastructure, but would have no ongoing responsibilities for the operation of the IDP. Again, the outsourced IDP software could be Shibboleth or a commercial SAML implementation; the note in the previous option also applies here.