Internet2’s Kenneth Klingenstein Inducted Into Internet Hall of Fame

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Klingenstein recognized for his pioneering work in the development of the internet’s identity and trust layers, envisioning and facilitating the widespread, consistent internet identity infrastructure we rely on today

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 14, 2021 – Internet2 today announced that Kenneth Klingenstein, Internet2 evangelist for trust and identity, has been inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame for helping lead the expansion of the internet in the Western United States and playing an early and important role in the development of the internet’s identity and trust layers. His leadership and advocacy led to early internet adoption in the United States, and a safer internet worldwide. 

Klingenstein is among 21 inductees from 11 countries being recognized for their contributions to building, optimizing, and strengthening the foundational infrastructure of the network for reach, access, security, and scale. They were honored at a special online award ceremony on December 14.

A photo showing Kenneth "Ken" Klingenstein sitting on a chair and participating in discussion during the 2018 Internet2 Technology Exchange in Orlando, Florida.
Kenneth “Ken” Klingenstein participating in the 2018 Internet2 Technology Exchange in Orlando, Florida.

“Ken’s intellectual rigor, leadership, and contributions helped lay the foundation for so much of the national infrastructure serving research and education still today – it’s a tremendous point of pride for Internet2 and our community,” said Howard Pfeffer, Internet2 president and CEO. “Ken has been a trailblazer since Internet2’s founding 25 years ago. He was there in the basement of the O’Hare Hilton in 1995 helping to formulate a vision for the Internet2 network that’s dedicated to the needs of research and education. He then channeled that passion toward the Internet2 Middleware Initiative, helping establish a set of activities we now call trust and identity. Ken’s induction into the Internet Hall of Fame is a testament to just how profound and far-reaching his contributions truly are.”

Klingenstein is the third Internet2 employee to be inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame. He joins former Internet2 president and CEO, the 2014 inductee Doug Van Houweling; and former Internet2 vice president and chief technology officer, the 2013 inductee Stephen Wolff.

“While I’m receiving an award of appreciation, for which I am humbled, I feel I should be sending my appreciation for the set of activities I’ve been gifted to participate in, the remarkable people I’ve had the privilege to work with, and the opportunities to leave footprints on the path,” Klingenstein said during his acceptance remarks. 

Klingenstein went on to recognize the roles that Internet2, the University of Colorado, and long-time colleague and Internet2 Middleware Initiative collaborator RL “Bob” Morgan played in his career.

“While this commendation is a personal recognition, it must be noted that most of my professional life has been associated with Internet2,” commented Klingenstein. “Much of the body of work being noted by the Internet Society was done within the context of the Internet2 middleware activities. Given the passionate community participation in the work, the Internet Hall of Fame recognition is as much for the organization and community that creates it as it is for me.”

Klingenstein’s academic career has taken him from the University of California, Santa Barbara, to the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, where he became director of computing services in 1981, and then to the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder), as director of information technology services in 1985. In 1999, he was named CU Boulder’s chief technologist and loaned out to spearhead the Internet2 Middleware Initiative.

Under Klingenstein’s leadership, the Internet2 Middleware Initiative led the successful development of Shibboleth, the community-developed, open-source software that has enabled the growth of privacy-preserving federations; the OASIS security assertion markup language (SAML) standard, which Shibboleth uses to exchange identity data between federated partners; and the InCommon Federation, the U.S. research and education identity management federation. Both InCommon and Shibboleth were created with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“Ken and his colleagues set out to tackle some of the internet’s most complex challenges, mediating and establishing trust while retaining privacy, with courage, vision, confidence, and humility. Those leadership qualities would serve any cause well and we’re all very fortunate that Ken shares his talents to help make life on the internet more trustworthy,” said Kevin Morooney, Internet2 vice president of trust and identity and NET+ programs. “And while the content of Ken’s contributions are worthy of this kind of recognition, it is the manner by which the work has been done that will persist. Ken helped create a welcoming environment of diverse thinkers and practitioners where all who contributed felt valued.”

Brendan Bellina, lead IT architect with UCLA IT Services, recalls first meeting Klingenstein in 2000 through his involvement in the activities of the MACE-Dir working group. 

“It is not possible to overstate the importance of Ken’s role and contributions to the definition and development of the trust and identity space that is critical to enabling applications on the internet today,” said Bellina. “It was Ken who held the sextant and provided the coordinates by which generations of thought leaders in higher education, research institutions, government bodies, and vendors navigated to where identity and trust solutions are today. Ken through his vision, persistence, tenacity, evangelism, and charm educated and informed us all where we needed to look, and most importantly, what we needed to see.”

Highlights from Klingenstein’s Accomplished Career

  • Drew together a thriving community of national and international technical talent that has delivered on several software development projects, the impact of which have been profound. 
  • Notable for catalyzing and leading identity architects to a consensus on standards which have become a global reference model for accessing services across research and education.
  • One of the true internet pioneers in the higher education IT community, Klingenstein was early involved in the National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET) development, chaired the Federal Networking Council advisory committee, and has participated in many federal advisory groups on network policy and technology. 
  • Served on the board of the Corporation for Research and Educational Networking (CREN), and was among the key initiators of public key infrastructure (PKI) security activities at a national level.
  • Principal investigator on seven awards from the NSF and one award from the Department of Commerce addressing a broad range of topics, including integrated middleware, authentication and authorization, privacy management, and virtual organizations. These awards cumulatively involved over a dozen collaborating Internet2 member organizations and over $12 million in federal funding that resulted in important research and collaboration tools that were developed, including InCommon Federation, Shibboleth, Grouper, COmanage, and OASIS SAML.
  • One of the first people in the United States to recognize the importance of community and school networking. Received the first NSF grant issued to systematically network a school district and create professional development opportunities for teachers, and a similar community network grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration for the Boulder Community Network. 

About Internet2®

Internet2 is a non-profit, member-driven advanced technology community founded by the nation’s leading higher education institutions in 1996. Internet2 serves 324 U.S. universities, 59 government agencies, 46 regional and state education networks and through them supports more than 80,000 community anchor institutions, over 1,000 InCommon participants, and 54 leading corporations working with our community, and 70 national research and education network partners that represent more than 100 countries.

Internet2 delivers a diverse portfolio of technology solutions that leverages, integrates, and amplifies the strengths of its members and helps support their educational, research and community service missions. Internet2’s core infrastructure components include the nation’s largest and fastest research and education network that was built to deliver advanced, customized services that are accessed and secured by the community-developed trust and identity framework.

Media Contact
Sara Aly, Internet2 Communications