The growing popularity of cloud-based services is transforming the way students, educators, and administrators communicate, collaborate, and work. Responding effectively to new requirements requires a fresh approach to identity management.
Sander Liemberg, project manager at the University of Groningen, said, “Today, we have more than 70 applications for our students and staff. With more than 5,000 new students joining at the beginning of every academic year, the challenge is to ensure that we can set each user up with the credentials and permissions to access the services they need.”
Henk-Jan Zilverberg, the university’s IDM specialist, said, “With the number of applications growing, we wanted to make it easier for users to access our services. As part of a large project involving stakeholders from across the university, we decided to create a web portal. By uniting our cloud-based applications under a single policy, the aim was to eliminate the time-consuming process of managing separate usernames and passwords for each service.”
For many years, the University of Groningen has relied on NetIQ Identity Manager and NetIQ Access Manager to deliver automated, federated management for all users.
“Micro Focus solutions are the core of our identity management infrastructure, which is crucial to the university’s IT services,” said Liemberg. “Every year, Identity Manager helps us to provision thousands of new student accounts securely at the touch of a button. The Micro Focus solution also provides self-service capabilities for common requests such as password resets, enabling our lean team to manage an extensive user base.”
To facilitate the new web portal, the university turned to its trusted Micro Focus solutions.
“The web portal project was a huge initiative and early on in the process we realized that single sign-on [SSO] capabilities would be a key enabler,” said Zilverberg. “Automated form filling, identity injection and traffic routing capabilities were all prerequisites to create the web portal, and our existing Micro Focus solutions supported every requirement.”
Thanks to Access Manager, any user logging into the web portal is automatically logged into the cloud-based applications they have permission to use. In addition, the solution enables the university to offer each user a customizable dashboard that persists between sessions. “SSO enables us to serve personalized content to each user,” said Liemberg. “For example, students are automatically logged into their faculty’s intranet, and employees gain access to clerical applications for email, salaries and vacation planning.
“The granularity of Access Manager is a great benefit and helps ensure we are compliant with university best policy. For instance, if a former employee needs to see their paychecks, then we can offer him or her access to that system in isolation.”
Today, the University of Groningen authenticates over one million SSO sessions per month, offering timely access to course materials, journals, cloud-based storage and more. “Prior to the web portal solution, students, and employees had multiple usernames and passwords for each of the university’s cloud-based services,” said Liemberg. “The university now manages all identity and access rights with a single system, enabling IT to provide instant access for everyone. This means one-click access to apps and class schedules, news, and electronic reservation systems for public computers. It also offers a single interface where academic staff can get access to administration tools and the university’s interactive whiteboard environment.”
Based on the success of the web portal project, the university is now planning to build on its Identity Manager and Access Manager solutions.
“We are now working to deliver role-based, self-service provisioning for applications to students and employees,” said Zilverberg. “Our Micro Focus solutions have never let us down, and we are confident that Micro Focus software will enable us to further enhance the accessibility and security of the university’s online services.”