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Highland Community College

Using Novell Identity Manager and Novell Access Manager has given Highland Community College the opportunity to improve the student experience while reducing overall support costs.

Overview

Highland Community College is a comprehensive community college offering educational programs designed to transfer into a baccalaureate program at senior institutions, leading directly to employment or satisfaction of a special interest. Its academic divisions include business and technology, humanities and social sciences and sciences and health.

Challenge

The IT department at Highland Community College was looking to provide a streamlined yet secure online environment for its students. Previously, students had to remember multiple user names and passwords and were presented with different screens when logging into Novell GroupWise, Novell NetStorage, Elluminate, Moodle and other applications. “This causes a great deal of consternation,” said Nathan Hensal, director of ITS for Network, Desktop and AV Support for Highland Community College. “Passwords for various Web-based applications had to be reset by different departments, aggravating students and tying up internal support resources.”

To alleviate these challenges, the college set out to unify the log-in process. “We needed a common set of credentials so students could access all the resources they need, regardless of whether they’re in the classroom, in computer labs or at home,” said Hensal. “Having a uniform, streamlined process would create a more positive experience for students, while reducing the number of help desk calls. That’s important for community colleges like ours that don’t have a large support staff.”

Additionally, the college sought to overhaul its manual, error-prone user provisioning processes. “When account provisioning issues such as duplicate user names arose, we had to delay issuing e-mail and other accounts to those students,” said Hensal. “At the start of each semester, we were spending weeks fixing broken accounts, which was a disservice to the student and could cause delays to the start of their class.”

Solution

Highland Community College engaged Paragon Development Systems, a Novell Platinum Partner, to identify, design, test and implement the appropriate solution. The company found Novell identity and security products to be ideal for the college.

“Novell Access Manager was the best choice for Highland Community College,” said Tom Scott, principal architect for Paragon Development Systems. “The ability to perform Web authentication without requiring an agent on Web servers is important when using cloud-based applications such as Moodle, our hosted learning management system. Novell Access Manager is very easy to integrate and administer in these environments.”

The college is now leveraging Novell Access Manager to enable Web single sign-on and authentication capabilities. “Now students log in once from a single screen to access protected resources on the Highland Web site,” said Mike Meyer, principal architect for Paragon Development Systems. “From that point on they can access all necessary resources, without having to re-authenticate.”

Paragon also implemented Novell Identity Manager to synchronize user information across Novell GroupWise, SunGard Banner and other applications. The college now manages more than 6,000 identities using Novell Identity Manager. The software enables the automation of user provisioning by leveraging student records from SunGard Banner to set up the necessary accounts in other applications, saving the IT team a significant amount of time.

Results

Paragon Development Systems helped the college establish a more user-friendly experience while driving down IT costs. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without Paragon Development Systems,” said Hensal. “They recognized the uniqueness of our environment and tailored the implementation around that. We’re very grateful for their time and expertise.”

“Novell Access Manager reduced the complexity of the log-in process and cut password management support issues in half,” said Hensal. “Also, the user account data we can gather through Novell Access Manager will enable us to direct customized content based on user type. For example, we can serve up targeted news pages and other information to specific groups of users for added convenience.”

Novell Identity Manager strengthened security while simplifying system administration. “We can manage all identities through a single console and gain an enterprise-wide view of all account activity,” said Hensal.

Additionally, the software helped Highland streamline the student payment process. “Novell Identity Manager enabled us to fully realize our investment in our new online bill payment system,” said Hensal. “Students need a Highland e-mail account before they can use our online payment system. Thanks to Novell Identity Manager, we can quickly create an account, enabling students to register and pay for classes during one interaction.”

In addition, Novell Access Manager and Novell Identity Manager have freed Highland’s support teams to focus on delivering more student services. “Manually deprovisioning accounts used to take our user services librarian four to five weeks to complete,” said Hensal. “Now he can spend that time helping faculty develop online courses.”

The college also plans to leverage additional capabilities of the Novell solution. “We’re poised to take advantage of the Novell Identity Manager role-based provisioning capabilities as we extend the solution to our faculty and staff,” said Hensal.

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