AppID® brings it all together for the University of Portland

Background

Perched on a wooded bluff overlooking Oregon’s Willamette River, The University of Portland (U.P.) is a private Catholic university with nearly 4,000 students and 1,000 faculty and staff members. It faces the same IT challenges as many 5,000-person business—with the added complication of extremely rapid student turnover as students enter and leave their study cycles.

The school’s IT department has increasingly turned to cloud apps. They’re convenient, low cost and highly available. More importantly for an organization of this scope, they’re quick to set up, they require no capital expenditures or software development, and they come with high SLAs to which vendors can be held accountable.

“Users would have to sign on their computer with their network credentials, sign on to a homegrown portal, and then maybe sign on to access their app,” said Michelle Sunderland, Director of Technical Services. “That’s not very convenient for the user.”

With 5,000 users and an average of 10 apps per user for students and faculty, they needed a simplified portal to tame their sprawling cloud. This created a new challenge: how does a medium-sized university avoid paying enterprise-style prices?

University of Portland

Company Profile:
With a growing stable of cloud and web apps, the University of Portland wanted a portal with single sign-on for students and faculty, and an easy, inexpensive way to integrate new apps.

Industry: Higher Education

Headquarters: Portland, Oregon

Intermedia’s customer since: 2014

The Challenge

At the time their hunt began, U.P.’s IT department was using an open source Central Authentication Server (CAS). This centralization meant that every new app had to be custom integrated—which required a $2,000 to $5,000 investment with the software vendor PLUS 3 to 4 weeks for testing and development.

“We didn’t necessarily have dedicated staffing or skill sets for that. It required a lot more time and effort from our sys admin to make that work,” said Sunderland. “We were really looking for something to save us time and money in how we manage authentication and permissions for new apps, and to create a nice interface for users to find their apps and not have to log in separately.”

The Solution

Then they found Intermedia's AppID. "Everybody loved it—the graphical interface, look and feel—and we could clearly see the benefits and time savings of managing single sign-on through this interface," Sunderland said.

They also liked that AppID leverages groups and permissions from Active Directory and applies them directly to cloud apps. "It's easy for us to manage," added Kumaran Belachandran, Senior Linux Engineer. Adding new apps to the AppID portal is a piece of cake compared to CAS integration.

At the university there are now 20 apps accessible through the AppID portal with single sign-on. These include a student information system, learning management tool, webmail, survey tool and IT service management software. About 40% are cloud apps and 60% are hosted locally hosted, though this ratio is expected to shift toward the cloud in the future.

Having a single portal and sign-on to access apps is very convenient for users. Even students who are studying abroad can log in the portal remotely over the internet and stay connected to campus life. "I use it myself every day," said Sunderland "It's a great time savings. I use it from home, on my iPad and even on my iPhone. So it's nice having it available in some way wherever you are."

Previously we’d be talking weeks of effort on our side. Now we’re talking hours.

MICHELLE SUNDERLAND, Director of Technical Services, University of Portland,
University of Portland

Products They Use

The Results

Intermedia AppID is saving time and money. To start with, they avoid a $2,000 to $5,000 software integration fee per app. Beyond that, integration is far faster. "Previously we’d be talking weeks of effort on our side. Now we're talking hours. It's a different order of magnitude," Sunderland said.

AppID's built-in password management also saved the university a $15,000 to $20,000 capital expense for a separate password management tool. And because account lockouts and password resets are one of the most common help desk items, this feature is expected to reduce support call volume.

Speaking of support: U.P.'s IT staff is also pleased with the support they’re getting from Intermedia. "From start to finish, I've always felt that you guys are very responsive, very easy to work with, very flexible in terms of what we're requesting and being open to giving us a lot of what we ask," said Sunderland.

Sunderland looks forward to building on AppID, adding new apps and bringing more convenience and functionality to students and faculty. "I'm totally excited about it for our campus," Sunderland said.

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