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InCommon strongly recommends that you refresh your metadata daily to ensure that your SAML endpoints have access to the most up-to-date keys and other registered information. Some software implementations (such as Shibboleth) handle metadata with ease, but please read this entire page to understand the requirements and pitfalls of metadata consumption.

If you don't refresh your metadata regularly, it is likely your software implementation will fail at some point since the XML document carries an expiration date (validUntil) that causes the metadata to expire in three weeks. InCommon strongly recommends that you do not rely on the length of this validity interval in any way, and in fact, we reserve the right to shorten the validity interval with little or no notice.

Hostname Configuration

Depending on your environment, you may have to poke a hole in a firewall to get metadata refesh to work. In that case, you will actually want to poke two holes in that firewall since there are two metadata servers as described below.

Hostname wayf.incommonfederation.org resolves to one of two identical servers, either in Michigan (207.75.165.125) or Indiana (140.182.44.53). The actual server used at any given point in time is unspecified and left to the discretion of InCommon Operations. If one of the servers goes down or requires maintenance, the other can be brought up within minutes, with minimal disruption of services.

Therefore, please make sure both your SAML implementation and your metadata refresh processes are configured with hostname wayf.incommonfederation.org (as opposed to an IP address). On the other hand, make sure your firewall (if any) is configured with both IP addresses (207.75.165.125 and 140.182.44.53).

Signature Verification

Federation metadata is signed for integrity and authenticity. Participants are strongly encouraged to verify the XML signature on the metadata file.

To bootstrap the trust fabric of the Federation, participants are required to download (and verify in whatever manner deemed sufficient) the following certificate, which contains the public key corresponding to the Federation's private metadata signing key:

https://wayf.incommonfederation.org/bridge/certs/incommon.pem

Once this file is locally installed, you can use it to verify the signature on the metadata file in conjunction with the refresh process.

Software Configuration

If you plan on using the Shibboleth software for the purposes of federation, you can in fact also use Shibboleth to download and verify the signed metadata without having to rely on any other tools. Regardless of your implementation, however, you can always set up a cron job to refresh your metadata, but in that case you will also need a tool to verify the XML signature at the time of refresh.

Apart from this, your software implementation needs to be configured to consume the InCommon metadata. Exactly how this is done depends on your implementation of course. Check the links below to learn how to do this with the Shibboleth software.

Related Documentation

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