About GFKL Financial Services AG
GFKL Financial Services AG is a holding company with two business divisions: receivables management and software. With more than 1,700 employees servicing receivables totalling more than EUR 23 billion, the GFKL Group is one of the leading receivables management companies in Germany. On the software side, GFKL offers applications for loan and receivables management for banks, and business process software for insurance firms.
The dynamics of a growing and changing environment entail frequent changes in personnel and organisational structures. For GFKL's IT team, it became increasingly difficult to manage access rights and software distribution, and to provide adequate support. Setting up accounts for new users was largely a manual process, involving significant amounts of paperwork, and it was not easy to ensure that ex-employees were correctly removed from all systems. Each corporate system had a separate administrator responsible for provisioning and managing users.
The lack of a central point of control for user environments made it difficult for GFKL to provide effective support and to ensure that all users had the correct versions of software and the correct security patches.
When new users started work, or when existing users switched from one internal team to another, the IT team had to manually create or edit access rights and install the relevant software packages.
GFKL's preferred IT partner, DIDAS AG—a Platinum PartnerSM—proposed the introduction of Identity Manager, explaining the potential benefits it would deliver.
"DIDAS AG really led the initiative, and helped us with special requirements for Identity Manager, such as the specific drivers and connectors we needed," said Frank Marten, IT Specialist, Senior System Engineer, GFKL Group. "We have a strong working relationship with DIDAS AG across our entire portfolio of Novell (now a part of Micro Focus) products, and we appreciate the company's technical knowledge and responsiveness to our needs."
Working with DIDAS AG, GFKL implemented Identity Manager as a central point of control and administration for approximately 600 users, linking the solution to its HR system, to Micro Focus eDirectory™ and Microsoft Active Directory, and to a number of business applications. The solution runs on a virtual instance of SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server on VMware ESX Server.
"We built workflows in Identity Manager to automate the provisioning of new users, including the creation of all the relevant network and application accounts," said Norbert Kampka, Team Leader, IT Organisation, GFKL Group. "Entering a new employee into the HR system triggers the workflow, which then just requires a manager to click a few times and approve the set up of all the accounts and access rights."
GFKL also introduced password synchronisation and single sign-on, enabling it to enforce the use of a strong password while simultaneously making it easier for users to access their applications.
To improve the efficiency and speed of software distribution, and to create a more standardised desktop environment that would be easier to support, GFKL deployed ZENworks on Microsoft Windows Server. Recently, the team upgraded to ZENworks Configuration Management.
"ZENworks has given us a central point of control for testing and deploying new applications, making it easier to ensure that all users have the right software and patches," said Norbert Kampka. "With ZENworks Configuration Management, we have created a 'software shopping basket' of 80 to 90 approved applications which are provided to users according to their roles in the organisation."
The shopping basket is integrated with ZENworks Asset Management, ensuring that GFKL can easily keep track of its software licensing obligations. In this past, software licences were managed manually using spreadsheets, which required more effort and delivered less clarity.
Deploying Identity Manager and ZENworks Configuration Management has enabled GFKL to automate and standardise many elements of IT administration, saving time and effort and keeping skilled staff available to work on project and consulting tasks.
"Identity Manager enables us to handle a very high volume of changes to user information without significant effort, and allows us to offer a highly responsive service to the business," said Norbert Kampka. "It's now much easier to keep all user information synchronised and ensure high levels of security."
With a standardised desktop environment controlled by ZENworks Configuration Management, all users have a familiar workspace wherever they log in. GFKL can more easily track software licenses and ensure compliance, and the standardisation of the systems also makes it easier to lock down desktops and increase security. Most important, the ability to test applications centrally and then deploy them across the network significantly increases rollout speed and reduces administrative effort considerably.
"The new repository in ZENworks Configuration Management makes it much faster to deploy applications. ZENworks packages can be created centrally and then get distributed independently from file permissions," said Frank Marten. "It now takes just 1.5 hours to set up a new workstation—it previously took three or four times longer—and support is easier, too. Just two administrators handle approximately 600 users, which would not be possible without the Novell solutions."