How Cleveland Community College streamlined their login process.
GUEST COLUMN | by Kyle Harmon
We can all relate to forgetting passwords so it’s no wonder students who’ve enjoyed a long summer away from campus have a lapse of memory when it comes to registering for classes. This is a huge problem faced by colleges nationwide, which can cause not only a major headache for the IT department, but delays and frustration for the user. Cleveland Community College in Shelby, North Carolina, was no exception.
Registration time was, quite frankly, a dreaded process for our Help Desk. We were using a number of different systems that required separate login credentials. This meant that during registration periods we received several hundred requests to reset passwords. Bear in mind that our IT team consists of five staff who are responsible for servicing 500-plus staff and faculty members as well as approximately 4,000 students each semester.
Our Help Desk is only available Monday through Thursday until 9 p.m. and Friday until 2 p.m., which resulted in a huge backlog of potentially frustrated users during weekend hours. We needed a system that allowed just one login for accessing all of our online systems and the ability for faculty, staff, and students to effectively enjoy a ‘self-service’ password reset experience.
Chad Linder, fellow Computer Network Specialist, and I spearheaded a campaign to change our current login system. The objective was to ensure better user satisfaction, to improve the user experience, and to maximize our limited IT resources. It was important to ensure we retained a high level of security for online access for both our students and staff, as well as eliminate the need for multiple login credentials.
We currently use Microsoft Office 365 for student email. Implementation cost was a huge factor so we knew our answer had to be an affordable system that was quick and easy to deploy, would enable self-service password reset capabilities and significantly reduce Help Desk calls.
SecureAuth IdP was recommended to us by Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, NC. We also reviewed Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services 2.0 and Microsoft Identity Manager before deciding SecureAuth was the best all-in-one solution. We required a custom user registration process that would not have been possible without the use of SecureAuth IdP. This custom registration process allows users to populate fields tied to their Active Directory account using a secure web interface. This eliminates the need for IT input, saving time and resources when importing new users in to our systems.
The new ‘self-service’ system meant users self-register and reset their credentials from any device, including phones and tablets – while maintaining a high level of security. We opted to deploy the new identity access management system in phases beginning with faculty and staff, then students. The SecureAuth developers worked closely with us to customize the user interface and authentication policies specific to our user needs. The design was completed in less than two weeks.
SecureAuth was ideal in that it integrated with Microsoft Active Directory to streamline the account credentials, then deployed two-factor authentication with single sign on for the educational portals. Two factor authentication was added where users self-register and reset their access credentials using a phone number or email address to validate their identities.
The SecureAuth development team provided expert recommendations and best practices that simplified the integration within our systems and also considered the optimum usability for our end-user audience. In less than two months SecureAuth and our IT team at Cleveland Community College deployed the new system for each stage of the phased rollout.
We saw immediate benefits with the single sign on and usability features. Users easily registered themselves and no longer had to worry about remembering credentials for so many different systems.
Howard Roberts, Chief Information Officer at Cleveland Community College, has seen a huge reduction in support calls. The new system is vital to weekend support where users can self-service their own accounts and reset their own passwords immediately and securely.
Overall, the entire college is benefitting from the new system. Staff, faculty members and our thousands of students now have a better user experience with just one set of login credentials.
Like all educational institutions, security will always be top priority for Cleveland Community College. With more faculty, staff and students now using tablets and smartphones to access our applications, it is of extreme importance that we have a security system in place that allows multiple users access from desktop and mobile devices while also meeting PCI Compliance.
I would highly recommend a solution like SecureAuth IdP to any educational institution in need of a secure, self-service system that will improve user experience and save countless hours of IT resources.
Kyle Harmon is a Computer Network Specialist for Cleveland Community College in Shelby, North Carolina. Visit: http://www.clevelandcc.edu For more information about SecureAuth, visit: www.secureauth.com Write to Kyle at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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