About National Chung Hsing University
National Chung Hsing University (NCHU) is one of the longest-established and most prestigious institutions in Taiwan, with 20,000 students and 1,200 staff. NCHU is the only state-run university in central Taiwan that offers a comprehensive curriculum and research program, and aims to be ranked among the top world universities within the next five years.
As the global demand for higher education rises and new colleges and universities are founded, the more established institutions have to operate in an increasingly competitive environment. To attract students, researchers and funding, universities need to offer improved levels of service in all areas–and the provision of IT is often a key focus area for delivering added value.
NCHU wanted to improve the user experience for its staff and students by giving them single sign-on access to all university systems, providing more flexibility by enabling them to work remotely.
However, the university's existing account management landscape was complex, with five separate user directories. Users had to remember a number of passwords for different systems, and administrators spent considerable time adding and removing users from each directory. NCHU wanted to find a solution that would consolidate its directories, simplify the landscape and reduce workload for its IT staff.
NCHU evaluated various account management systems from different vendors, and ultimately chose a solution based around Novell Identity Manager, Novell Access Manager and Novell eDirectory™.
"We chose Novell for two reasons," said Wu Hsien-Ming, Network Team Leader at the Computer and Network Centre of NCHU. "First, we were impressed by the pedigree of Novell eDirectory–it is a mature and well-established technology, so we were sure it would provide excellent levels of reliability. Second, Novell was able to prove that the solution could meet all of our requirements by running a demonstration on our own systems."
Once NCHU decided to move ahead with the project, Novell helped implement the software and consolidate the five user directories into a single metadirectory managed by Novell eDirectory within just six months. Novell Identity Manager synchronises user information across all five systems automatically, helping to streamline administration.
"The contribution of the Novell team went further than just the technology," said Wu Hsien-Ming. "The Novell consultants helped us re-engineer our user management processes to maximise efficiency. Now, when a new student is enrolled, we can set up a user account very quickly across all relevant systems, and most of the process is automated. Similarly, the account will be deleted automatically as soon as the student leaves the university, which helps to maintain security and clear the system of redundant accounts."
Many of the students and researchers at NCHU need to work at remote sites, such as the experimental farms and forests run by the university's Life Sciences and Veterinary Medicine departments–and many others wanted the flexibility of being able to work from home or on laptops and mobile devices.
"With Novell Access Manager, we can provide the same access to resources to all students, wherever they are, 24x7–giving them the freedom to work in whatever way is most convenient for them," said Wu Hsien-Ming.
By consolidating to a single metadirectory and implementing an identity management solution, NCHU can keep much tighter control over user accounts. The Novell solution enables the university to audit its user accounts more thoroughly, helping to eliminate potential security problems and ensure that the right people have access to the right systems.
"The centralised system has helped reduce the amount of time our staff spend on basic user administration tasks by about 80 percent–as there is no longer a need to enter the same information into five different systems," said Wu Hsien-Ming. "By reducing the time and manpower we need to spend on these low-level tasks, we can concentrate on our long-term strategy and develop better IT services for our users."
Users are already experiencing a number of benefits from the new solution. Instead of having to remember several passwords for different systems, and to log in and out of each system several times each day, they use a single master password and log in just once.
"The Novell solution makes life easier for both the IT staff and the user community," said Wu Hsien-Ming. "Novell has helped us build an identity management architecture that supports NCHU's vision of a truly modern IT infrastructure."