About Thomas M. Cooley Law School
Cooley Law School is the largest law school in the nation. Founded in 1972, the private, non-profit law school operates J.D. programs across Michigan in Lansing, Auburn Hills, Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. Today, Cooley Law School has over 14,000 graduates across the nation and worldwide and also offers joint degree and master of laws programs. Cooley offers enrollment three times a year; in January, May and September, including evening and weekend classes.
As the law school continued to experience tremendous growth, it sought to automate and bring consistency to user account provisioning. "Previously, we had many silos of user identities and passwords," said Greg Colegrove, director of IT Operations for the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. "We set out to improve the way we performed authentication to gain efficiencies and adapt to the emerging needs of our student population. Securing cloud-based applications, such as Google Apps, was part of this vision."
Law school alumni sought to stay in touch with one another and collaborate after graduation. Responding to this need, the school set out to extend email and network access to students when they graduated. "We wanted to grant students continued access to applications after graduation using a single set of credentials, without creating undue administrative challenges for our IT team," said Colegrove. "To provide students with a seamless process, we wanted them to be able to continue using the same email address and network security password when they graduated."
The school needed an identity management solution that could not only integrate with Google Apps but enable them to easily incorporate additional cloud-based applications in the future. Moreover, they set out to deploy the solution before the start of the fall semester.
After evaluating different solutions with the assistance of Gracon, a Novell Platinum Partner, the law school selected Novell Identity Manager, along with CosmosKey's Novell IDM Connector for Google Apps.
"Novell Identity Manager provides transparent authentication to cloud-based applications and aligned well with our existing infrastructure," said Colegrove.
Gracon worked with Cooley Law School to design, deploy and rollout the solution. "Gracon did a tremendous job," said Colegrove. "They really understood our unique needs and knew what we needed to accomplish in a short timeframe. Their product expertise was also a critical success factor."
The school now uses Novell Identity Manager to integrate Google Apps with eDirectory™, which authenticates users to various academic systems via its web based student portal. User names and passwords are now automatically synchronized so when a user account is created, changed or deactivated, this information is reflected through all connected systems, without the need for manual intervention.
Novell Identity Manager also provides automated provisioning/deprovisioning and password self-service. "Using SAML open standards, users gain transparent authentication to applications, regardless of whether they're in-house or in the cloud," said Colegrove.
The school has also found the Novell solution's dynamic group capabilities beneficial. "We saw the advantage of using the software's dynamic groups to reduce administrative costs," said Colegrove. "We can grant students access to the appropriate applications and distribution lists, based on their user profiles. And if a student moves to a different campus, all his accounts and lists are changed automatically."
The Novell solution provides Cooley Law School a consistent framework for managing identities across physical, virtual and cloud applications. This has strengthened security and reduced costs for the school, while providing added convenience for its students. The law school is also poised to take advantage of emerging cloud applications to keep pace with student needs. "With Novell Identity Manager in place, we can consider new cloud-based applications, free of integration obstacles," said Colegrove.
"Thomas Cooley Law School now has an extensible framework they can build upon as they leverage additional cloud-based applications," said Michael K. Grady, chairman of Gracon Services, Inc. "Moving forward, it will be easy to plug in new applications. The school can quickly offer many more services without having to increase their staff."
By synchronizing user identities and passwords across connected systems, enacting standard password policies and automating user provisioning and deprovisioning, the school has strengthened security while realizing tremendous time savings. "Novell Identity Manager is a huge time saver," said Colegrove. "We've automated many processes and realized dramatic improvements in the manner and rate at which we can provision student accounts. That's been a huge boon in productivity."
In addition, leveraging CosmosKey's Novell IDM Connector for Google Apps allowed the school to quickly realize time-to-value for the new solution. "We had an extremely tight timeframe for this project," said Colegrove. "Using CosmosKey's Novell IDM Connector for Google Apps reduced the time and effort involved with delivering the solution."