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National Northern University

Using Novell Identity Manager, the IT team at National Northern University solved user management issues, cut costs and unified access to all university systems.

About National Northern University

The National Northern University (NNU) offers courses in economics, history, industry, law, management and philosophy, covering 43 undergraduate course specialties. In total there are some 10,000 students from 31 provinces in China and a further 1,000 teachers and staff.

Challenge

The university was running a variety of applications, including educational administration, library management, human resources, finance and more. Data entered into each system remained isolated, requiring manual transfer, and each application required separate login procedures and passwords.

Managing moves, additions and changes for more than 11,000 users, not to mention resetting lost or forgotten passwords, was producing a large administrative workload for the IT team. At times, particularly the start of new semesters, the situation became almost unmanageable.

Ideally, the university wanted to replace all its diverse applications with an integrated software suite. However, replacing the current systems with new applications, including the expense of migrating legacy data, was too costly and could only be approached in a phased manner over several years. The IT team wished to preserve its existing software and hardware assets while reducing administrative costs and user complexity, so NNU invited vendors to propose possible solutions.

Novell Solution

NNU selected Novell Identity Manager as the first step towards solving the immediate challenges of IT workload, and as part of a longer-term strategy to integrate its applications.

Other vendors' solutions proposed centralizing systems and applications in order to deliver integration,” said Zuhong Feng, Director of IT Center. The Novell solution allows us to provide single sign-on to our current systems, and choose our own pace for application integration. Using Novell Identity Manager, we have reduced the IT teams workload and made sign-on and access procedures much simpler for users without fundamentally changing our existing infrastructure.

If we had chosen centralized integration, we might have had to rebuild our old systems, which would have taken more time and more money than we had available and would have required more hardware.

NNU runs a variety of operating systems, including Solaris, Windows 2003 and Linux to support its applications and Oracle and SQL databases, hosted on HP, IBM, Sun and 3Com servers. The Novell Identity Manager solution gives appropriately authorized users single sign-on access to applications, regardless of the underlying infrastructure. This eliminates the need for users to learn different procedures and passwords, while securing each application from unauthorized use.

With such a complex and varied set of systems, the versatility of Novell Identity Manager was a big advantage, said Zuhong Feng. The solution can be integrated easily with almost any application and operating system, so it will be simple to extend it if we introduce new systems to our network.

NNU was also impressed with the quality of Novell's support and service offerings.

"Our relationship with the Novell team is excellent and it is good to be able to deal with an IT supplier directly, instead of through a third party," said Zuhong Feng. "Novell has a good understanding of our needs, and delivers solutions that really add value to our organization."

Results

By implementing Novell Identity Manager, National Northern University has successfully eliminated the confusion and difficulty caused by 11,000 users having to remember up to five different passwords. The Novell solution presents seamless access procedures regardless of application or platform.

Zuhong Feng estimates that Novell Identity Manager has reduced hardware costs by around 40 percent when compared with implementing an integrated ERP application, as the Novell solution does not require any additional infrastructure.

"If we hadn't chosen the Novell solution, the project would have taken more time and we would have needed to invest more in hardware," said Zuhong Feng. "We would also have required more staff with higher skill levels. The Novell Identity Manager solution is simple to use and reduces workload for the IT department."

By adopting a low-impact, cost-effective solution, the university is now able to effectively handle its immediate identity management issues. The cost savings delivered by the solution will help the university fund its longer-term IT strategy the move towards a completely integrated infrastructure.

"For the university as a whole, we have improved our management capabilities and moved from isolated systems towards integration," said Zuhong Feng. "We have built a kind of university-wide portal and united our most important systems into a single flexible framework."

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