Messmer Catholic Schools—Education in the Cloud

 

Ways to Deliver Fast IT Services and Reduce IT Expenses
Like many educational institutions, Messmer Catholic Schools are focused on delivering the highest quality education program possible while striving to rein in costs. Consequently, Ryan Jonas, assistant director of technology, is constantly looking for ways to deliver faster IT services, while reducing IT expenses and overhead. One way to do this is to deploy a cloud-first application strategy, taking advantage of the cost savings and efficiencies of the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model.

However, as the organization adopted an outsourced, service-oriented IT strategy, Jonas realized that he needed a way to manage and monitor hundreds of user accounts for a disparate variety of users— faculty, staff, and students—in the cloud. He recognized that it would be virtually impossible to create an enforceable strong password policy based on concepts like requiring long passwords with a complex, randomized string of letters, numbers, and special characters. If he did so, he would be inundated with calls from users who forgot their passwords and needed to have them reset. He quickly realized that enabling single sign-on (SSO), to provide users easy access to their SaaS applications without a password, was the solution. SSO eliminates the need for them to remember complex passwords, and it also reduces the inconvenience of having to re-enter the same user ID/password combination over and over again.

Given the high level of student and staff turnover that occurs at the beginning and end of each school year, he needed a solution that would reduce the amount of time and effort required to provision new user accounts. And, just as important, he needed a way to quickly and easily deprovision users when they were no longer on the staff or student roster.

Lastly, Jonas wanted a solution that would allow him to enforce strong authentication under certain circumstances. Most strong hardware authentication solutions require the administrator to purchase and distribute hardware tokens. But, knowing his target audience, Jonas knew that this would be an administrative nightmare. He figured that if he could find a solution that used soft tokens that could be delivered to a device that his users already had—their cell phones—he would be ahead of the game. This approach would relieve him of the responsibility and expense of acquiring, distributing, and managing hundreds of hardware tokens, while still enabling him to address use cases where extra levels of security are required, such as when a staff member needs to access a student’s private, personal information.

Evaluation Process
With these criteria in mind, Jonas embarked on a web search to identify a solution that would meet Messmer Catholic Schools’ needs at a price that would be acceptable to their budget. He contacted a number of cloud identity and access management vendors and requested a trial evaluation copies of their software. He also configured a sandbox environment and tested the applications for their support of:

When asked if he would recommend Intel to other educational institutions, Jonas replied that McAfee has been a great vendor to work with and that, “I would recommend them—and have.”

Ryan Jonas
Assistant Director of Technology
Messmer Catholic Schools
  • SSO
  • Provisioning/deprovisioning features
  • Strong authentication features
  • Management features (for example, management console)
  • SaaS application integration
  • Internal application integration, especially with internal directories like Microsoft Active Directory
  • Tools for creating custom SaaS application connectors
  • Company reputation
  • Solution cost

After evaluating several solutions, Jonas selected McAfee Cloud Single Sign On. He liked a number of features, such as Active Directory integration, which supports Windows authentication, along with synchronized provisioning and user profile updates of SaaS accounts. When Jonas adds updates or deletes a user account in Active Directory, McAfee Cloud Single Sign On automatically applies those changes to the appropriate SaaS accounts. Users who log on to Windows have access to all their SaaS apps, using a secure SSO portal, without having to logon again. Jonas also appreciated the ease with which he could configure the portal and add new SaaS applications over time, without having to pay extra for new SaaS connectors. Finally, from an operational perspective, Jonas noted that McAfee was the only vendor that provides 24/7 support and maintenance at no additional cost.

Results
Messmer Catholic Schools were able to achieve their primary goals of reducing the IT load for maintaining accounts, while at the same time, providing a more efficient, productive environment for staff and students. McAfee Cloud Single Sign On serves as Messmer Catholic Schools’ SSO login page and portal. It delivers seamless integration with Google Apps for Education and is also used for provisioning and deprovisioning of Google Apps user accounts.

When asked if he would recommend McAfee to other educational institutions, Jonas replied that McAfee has been a great vendor to work with and that, “I would recommend them—and have.”

Messmer Catholic Schools

Customer profile

Faith-based educational organization

Industry

Education

IT environment

185,000 endpoints

Challenges

  • Manage access to SaaS applications for thousands of users: students, faculty, and staff
  • Rapidly provision and deprovision accounts at the beginning and end of the school year
  • Reduce the IT burden of dealing with lost or forgotten passwords

McAfee solution

McAfee Cloud Single Sign On

Results

  • Reduced IT load for maintaining accounts
  • Elimination of passwordrelated calls
  • More efficient and convenient access to SaaS applications for staff and students