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Collection: CERNET Authentication and Resource Sharing Infrastructure

By Peking University, CERNET Network Center and CERNET Corporation wuzhenwic.org Updated: 2021-11-17


CERNET Authentication and Resource Sharing Infrastructure (Abbreviated as CARSI) is a service for universities and research institutes that have established unified identity Authentication on campus network. It provides federal authentication and global academic information resources sharing services, promoting the sharing of teaching and research resources among universities of different regions and scales. CARSI project was initiated by Peking University Computing Center in 2006 and developed gradually with the support of the National High-tech R&D Program (863 Program) and the National Development and Reform Commission. In May 2019, CARSI became a full member of eduGAIN which is the global Identity Federation of NRENs (National Research and Education Networks). In October the same year, it completed the system upgrade and officially entered the production operation stage. The project is managed by the network center of China Education and Research NETwork (CERNET), which coordinates the overall development of CARSI project. As the project leading institution, Peking University Computing Center is responsible for CARSI project technical service and business development, putting forward project development suggestions to CERNET network center and providing decision-making reference. As the project support company, Cernet Co., is responsible for marketing, face-to-face service, daily communication, and coordination with universities, and provides support for Peking University in marketing and resource exploration. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, CARSI has provided strong support for "Suspend Classes and Keep Teaching, Suspend Classes and Keep Learning" as an efficient instrument to access academic resources in universities and CARSI experienced explosive growth.


CARSI service follows the international standards and is based on Shibboleth which is an open-source middleware widely adopted by education and research networks in various countries. It connects university identity authentication and application resources outside universities through SAML protocol. It is a Chinese education and research identity authentication alliance, a resource sharing service and is also an application-layer infrastructure to get through the authentic identity of faculty and students to access off-campus resources. CARSI Identity Provider (IdP) uses standard interfaces to connect the identity management system (IdM) of universities. As one of the core information services, most universities have constructed a unique IdM in the past 20 years, which provides unified user management and identity authentication services for various internal information systems, covering the management of key factors related to university operation such as human, financial and materials. CARSI Identity Provider (IdP) uses standard interfaces to communicate with the resource providers. Resources may come from resource providers or other CARSI universities. CARSI expands the faculty and student identities which originally are used to access campus-wide information systems to the wider scope to access resources from other universities, domestic manufactures, and even the international manufacturers. It simplifies the end user management problem of various resources such as authenticity, the resource-end storage and maintenance of personal information, etc. and takes the separation of user authentication and access control into effect. It is a revolution of resource access management.


Different from identity federation of other NRENs, CARSI group of Peking University proposed the operation and management mechanism of CARSI federation and developed the systems. The deployment is simplified, the management is standardized, the practice is more efficient, and the operation is more stable. The main contents include: 1) Adhering to the concept of "self-service", it supports universities and resource providers to complete the whole CARSI process of applying, debugging, going online, operating and maintaining by themselves. 2) Based on the SaaS model, it provides exclusive CARSI service management view for each university and resource provider to understand service operation and monitor service status. 3) CARSI resource sharing portal is proposed to provide services for CARSI end users. On one site, faculty and students at each university can search and access resources that they have right as if it is customized to them. The portal supports both PC and various mobile terminals and can be seamlessly integrated into university unified information portals such as Wechat and various forms to make the end users access CARSI resources and other on-campus information systems in one site possible. 4) In view of the great differences among universities on the development level of informatization, the rapid installation method of IdP is introduced to simplify the installation steps of identity provider which connect university IDMs and improve the stable operation ability of IdP from the aspects of security, reliability etc.


As a bridge between universities and resource manufacturers, CARSI has brought about a revolution in the way universities access academic resources. Compared with the beginning of 2020, the number of universities in July 2021 increased by 25 times, and the number of resources increased by 9 times, ranking third in the world, only second to the United States and Britain in eduGAIN which is a global inter-federation NREN identity federation. At present, more than 480 universities and colleges can access about 290,000 journals, 260,000 multimedia resources, 3.3 million e-books and teaching materials, 13 million dissertations, 300 million patents and 1 billion data resources through CARSI, covering all disciplines published by the Ministry of Education, China.


At the same time, it explores a technical path for Chinese companies to enter the international market. Up to now, 12 information service providers such as Tongfang Knowledge Network Technology and Foxit Software can support direct access of foreign educational users through CARSI.

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