Until recently, Tim Johnson dreaded provisioning storage at the start of a new school year. As the IT system administrator at Lancaster Central School District for the past six years, he’d come to expect long hours, hundreds of helpdesk tickets, misplaced student accounts and other provisioning problems. Today, when a new term starts, our technology makes provisioning 6,000+ students across seven schools and 13 grade levels practically painless.
"We had no way to perform real-time provisioning. We spent a lot of resources on keeping track of and updating student accounts and storage."
System Administrator, IT Services Department
Lancaster Central School District
In Lancaster Central School District, every student in grades K–12 has an account on the network. So do the district’s 900+ staff and teachers. That’s more than 6,000 student accounts that change grades every year—and move from primary to elementary to middle school and finally high school.
Keeping track of thousands of accounts on a mix of platforms and locations used to be a nightmare, especially at the start of a new school term. “We were doing most of the account provisioning and home directory creation using a bulk import near the beginning of the school year,” Johnson recalls. “This method only afforded us a point-in-time import. We still ended up manually creating many late registrant accounts and storage.”
The IT Services Department was spending hundreds of hours creating and moving staff and student accounts and home directories at the start of each term. “In some cases students would need to wait several days in order to have network accounts provisioned and home directory space allocated,” he says.
Manually moving existing student accounts up a grade, or to their next school location, also introduced errors into the system—and increased the number of helpdesk tickets. “We had no way to perform real-time provisioning,” Johnson says. “We spent a lot of resources on keeping track of and updating accounts and storage for students and teachers. We also had no way to monitor storage levels automatically.”
With several of our products already in the Lancaster Central School District’s IT environment, it made sense for IT Services to test a solution.
“We were a NetIQ eDirectory shop and ran Open Enterprise Server, and considering the reasonable prices for Storage Manager and File Reporter, plus the ability to cut a lot of administrative overhead work, it was an easy decision,” he says.
Johnson convinced his department manager with one Storage Manager demo. “We were able to show we could save a ton of time, that just one person writing a policy could save hours of work,” he says.
Before Storage Manager, IT Services spent a week’s worth of man-hours just creating home directories for students being added at the last minute. Now Johnson can provision the entire student body in less than an hour.
“Novell (now a part of Micro Focus) makes creating user accounts and managing home directories almost a nonissue,” he says.
Each year the system automatically advances students up a grade level. As a result, the mountain of helpdesk tickets at the beginning of the school year—for new students, adds and drops, or moves to new schools—have been reduced by 70 to 80 percent.
“I don’t know of any other vendor that has a provisioning solution as reliable and well developed. I don’t think any other company has products like Storage Manager or File Reporter that can provision and report on storage across platforms, using NetIQ eDirectory or Active Directory,” he says. “The fact that we could get all the products we need from one vendor, and that these products could be leveraged regardless of the directory used and the storage platform, made us very confident in our decision.”
File Reporter helps IT Services keep storage problems to a minimum and stay in compliance with district regulations. “When needed we can easily determine storage usage and rights,” Johnson says. “The NFR reports can be generated directly in response to storage issues or from requests by the administration.” The versatility of File Reporter allows users to manage their own data, reducing IT workload and improving storage efficiency. “I get a report on a volume at 95 percent utilization, then send a message to the groups and users consuming the most space and ask them to delete unnecessary files,” he explains.As a user of our products since 1992, Johnson has seen many solutions evolve to meet user needs over the years. This gives him a positive outlook on the future.
“We are confident that, whether we remain using NetIQ eDirectory or Active Directory or a combination, Novell products will continue to provide the functionality and technical excellence we have come to expect. In the future we plan to expand our use of Novell products by using Filr and the Micro Focus iPrint appliance. The first time I printed from my iPhone to a network printer was pretty awesome!”