About Surrey Community Health
Surrey Community Health (SCH) is the "provider arm" of the UK National Health Service (NHS) in Surrey, and the largest provider of NHS community services in the county. It delivers frontline healthcare in eight Surrey community hospitals as well as community nursing, community dentistry, health visiting and specialist services such as physiotherapy, diabetes treatment and renal care.
With a paper-based process for setting up and managing new users across multiple systems, SCH lacked a clear, accurate view of its user population at any given time. Managers would frequently neglect to inform the network management team about changes in personnel status, forcing the team to run manual reports to identify dormant users and remove their access rights. This reactive approach to managing users tended to increase the time and effort required, and meant that many tasks were delayed or overlooked altogether.
There were also frustrations from the user point of view, with multiple different sets of system credentials to remember. A typical user might have seven or eight passwords, and the high incidence of forgotten passwords was putting a significant strain on the IT helpdesk.
Under pressure to reduce operating costs, and facing a major network merger that would add a further 800 users, the network management team set out to find a solution that would centralise and automate user management.
SCH chose Identity Manager, opting to work with Salford Software, a Platinum Partner™, to deploy the solution on Open Enterprise Server running on Linux. Our software was procured through NHS Connecting for Health (CfH), which certifies Identity Manager as being compliant with its baseline specification for identity management.
"We took a look at the available products on the market, and concluded that there was nothing else that comes remotely close to Identity Manager," said Alisdair Millard, Network Manager, Surrey Community Health. "We're keen to deploy Novell (now a part of Micro Focus) software wherever practical, quite simply because it always works as expected. We have just two people to manage a network of more than 2,500 users, and we spend very little time firefighting IT issues, thanks to the quality and reliability of the Novell software we use."
SCH is now working with Salford Software to complete the rollout of Identity Manager. Simultaneously, the organisation is merging three networks into one and moving its entire data centre to a new site.
"The input from Salford Software continues to be impressive—we feel comfortable that they really know what they're doing when it comes to identity management solutions. It's also an advantage that they've completed similar projects for other NHS organisations," said Millard.
SCH has built an automated provisioning system in Identity Manager that provides a simple web-based form for managers to request a new user account. Following approval, Identity Manager automatically creates the relevant user accounts and emails the credentials to the relevant manager.
As part of the new identity management solution, SCH also deployed SecureLogin to provide single sign-on (SSO) capabilities.
"SecureLogin is a brilliant piece of software which will make everyone's life much easier," said Millard. "I have dozens of systems to log into, so it saves me enormous amounts of time and effort."
SCH is now rolling out a password self-service portal using Identity Manager, which will reduce the strain on the helpdesk and enable its staff to focus on higher-priority issues.
The identity management solution is already delivering significant benefits at SCH in terms of speed, efficiency and control. The new online user-provisioning process is a clear improvement on the slow and error-prone paper-based processes used previously.
"Provisioning now is simply a matter of putting the new user into the relevant group or groups," said Millard. "We've integrated the provisioning with Storage Manager, so that Identity Manager can automatically create each user's home drive. This has saved us enormous amounts of time in migrating some 2,500 users to virtual servers in our new data centre. Essentially, Storage Manager saves us at least two minutes per user in setting up new accounts, and it also takes away all the hassle of manually 'grooming' drives to remove temporary files and other unwanted data."
Identity Manager automatically synchronises changes to user information or status across all connected systems, saving significant time and effort at SCH.
"Completely removing a user in the past required us to manually delete each account in each system," said Millard. "Now, we make the change once in a single place, and it's automatically propagated across all systems. Creating users is also much faster with Identity Manager—it could take as little as ten minutes—so new employees can be up and running sooner."