Identity management further delays student email addresses

Over the course of five months, students at Lane have been given three different dates to expect the roll-out of Google Education Apps. Each of those dates came and went months ago, and according to Bill Schuetz, chief information officer at Lane, the college is still not ready to deploy the education productivity suite.

In Sept. 2015, the Information Technology department announced a planned roll-out by the end of Oct. 2015. By then, students should have expected to receive new .edu email addresses that would enable access to special discounts and an array of productivity tools. That roll-out never occurred. IT had concerns about making the change in the middle of the term, so it was postponed until December 2015.

By the end of February 2016, the platform still had not been installed. IT assured students that the project was on track and gave a new expected launch date of April 15, 2016.

It is now June 2016, and Lane still has not implemented Google Education Apps, though not for lack of interest on IT’s part.

“Believe me, I want the college to have Google Education Apps as soon as we possibly can, but I want to roll it out right in a way that is sustainable,” Schuetz said. “We’ve already got the Google part figured out, so we know what to do with that. We’re just waiting for the last piece of this identity management to get put in.”

Identity management is summarized as “the security discipline that enables the right individuals to access the right resources at the right times for the right reasons,” according to Gartner Incorporated, an international technology research and advisory company.

There are four main components involved — account provisioning, password management, identity self-service and audit reporting. Provisioning is the creation of student accounts within the applications required for the various roles at Lane. Password management is the synchronization of user names and passwords across all the functions used by Lane students, faculty and staff. Identity self-service allows users to maintain their own identity records, including passwords. Finally, audit reporting keeps track of who does what in Lane’s digital environment.

Accounts must be provisioned for every student enrolled at Lane, every instructor and every employee who works at the college. Many people at Lane have multiple roles, each requiring its own type of provisioning. There are also different provisions to be made for international students, College Now students, continuing education students, non-credit students and credit students.

“We have a lot of unique situations here on campus, and quite a few new things we’ve discovered along the way that needed to be addressed,” Schuetz said. “Then we’ve had to go in and modify some things.”

Because of this thorough testing, the process of establishing a robust identity management system at Lane is taking longer than initially expected.

“All this work we’ve been doing is like the work you do under the hood of a car,” Schuetz said. “The people who will be using it, the students, they’re just going to get in and drive this car, but they won’t know we basically rebuilt everything underneath it, so it’s like a whole newly designed car.”

According to Schuetz, IT is tying up these loose ends before they begin a final phase of testing that should take a couple of weeks.