About Alvarado Independent School District
Alvarado Independent School District is a growing K-12 school district in North Texas with an economically diverse population of 3,400 students. The district has 450 teachers and staff across six campuses.
As in many school districts, Alvarado ISD has limited IT staffing and funding to solve its interoperability challenges. Without integrated systems, the district was forced to manually enter, update and manage more than 3,400 student accounts across various district systems—a process that often required a great deal of paperwork and a delay of several days.
Managing desktops across six locations was also a time-consuming effort. The IT staff was spending weeks traveling to each workstation to install or update applications. Without standardized desktops, students were able to install software and change settings which created support problems for the helpdesk.
To integrate its systems, Alvarado ISD wanted a solution that would work with the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF). The district selected Identity Manager, Storage Manager, and the SIFWorks Zone Integration Server (ZIS) from Edustructures.
"We had been using Novell (now a part of Micro Focus) eDirectory™ and wanted to leverage it across all our systems," said Kyle Berger, Directory of Technology for the Alvarado ISD. "With Identity Manager, we can tie together distributed systems and quickly introduce new applications into our environment."
Micro Focus eDirectory integrates with the district's Skyward student information system to provide a central repository for user identity information. Identity Manager and the SIFWorks ZIS automatically synchronize this user information across multiple applications and automate user account provisioning, which eliminates the need for manual updating.
"We have eliminated all the tedious manual processes associated with creating and updating network accounts," said Berger. "What we used to do in six days, we can now do in six seconds. Students now have network access the first day of school."
Alvarado worked with EST Group, a partner, to implement its SIF-based solution. "The EST Group helped us create a long-range business plan to map out our future," said Berger. "Their expertise in education helped us put together the right foundation for the long term."
The district plans to integrate more applications, such as its library and transportation systems, to further reduce administration time. Freeing up the IT staff from routine administrative tasks allows them to spend more time on value-added activities, such as classroom computer instruction.
Another benefit for students and IT staff is the easy management of student e-portfolios with Storage Manager. In the past, the IT staff had to manually create and move the home directories of all its students before each school year. Now Storage Manager leverages Micro Focus eDirectory to automatically manage a student's personal storage, based on identity attributes stored in Micro Focus eDirectory.
"The ability to give each student an e-portfolio is a great benefit and Storage Manager is the only way we could do it," said Berger. "We simply had to automate the process so we weren't spending our summers manually updating each user account and storage. Now we can provide each graduating student a record of all the work from their K-12 years with very little effort on our part."
With ZENworks™, the IT staff can install new applications and updates in a day, rather than weeks, without leaving their desks. ZENworks Patch Management has also automated patching, eliminating the need for IT staff to travel to multiple locations.
"We used to save some upgrades for the summer because they were so time-consuming," said Berger. "With ZENworks, we can distribute applications at any time without having to drive to a single campus."
The policy management features in ZENworks have allowed the IT staff to standardize the workstations in all its computer labs. Consistent desktops have dramatically reduced helpdesk calls, and helpdesk staff can now remotely repair or re-image a user's machine when necessary.
By automating identity management with Identity Manager and the SIFWorks ZIS, Alvarado has eliminated manual user provisioning. To date, the district has saved the equivalent of 8 percent of its IT budget that it can reinvest in other projects, and estimates a savings of $50,000 as it integrates more systems.
With Storage Manager, the district has also eliminated all manual administration for student e-portfolios, giving students easy and secure access to their files throughout their K-12 years. Automating desktop management with ZENworks has reduced administration time by 45 percent and IT travel time by 80 percent.
"Novell (now a part of Micro Focus) has helped us automate our entire environment so we can do more for our students with technology," said Berger. "The time and cost savings so far have been remarkable. We're a small district and can only imagine the savings a larger district could achieve."