Uni presses on with directory

Auckland University has reactivated its rollout of Microsoft Active Directory after pausing the project for two months.

Auckland University has reactivated its rollout of Microsoft Active Directory after pausing the project for two months.

As New Zealand’s biggest Active Directory implementation, the project will provide common authentication for three of the university’s major databases of more than 200,000 names.

Auckland University IT systems and services (ITSS) director Stephen Whiteside says while the university was happy with the technical work it had done, it stopped to review and refocus on the “the why and what for aspects” of the project.

Steve Saunders, who was acting director between Whiteside’s arrival eight weeks ago and the departure of former head Clayton Wakefield to ASB Bank, says not enough had been done to communicate the business outcomes and impact that rolling out Active Directory would have on end users.

ITSS, which looks after the university’s enterprise-wide IT infrastructure, began talking to IT managers from the seven faculties and 132 departments, setting up a steering committee for the project, which is lead by architecture faculty IT manager Matiu Carr.

ITSS enterprise systems manager Nick Burke says one of the business objectives that emerged from the review was the need to achieve efficiencies by consolidating name spaces into one directory. Another was to improve the end user experience, especially for students who have to maintain multiple user names and passwords.

"It's important to understand that Active Directory itself is not a panacea but part of a strategic process of how services are delivered across the university," Whiteside says.

He says ITSS is working hard on forming partnerships with the faculties, particularly on looking at total cost of ownership issues and areas where standardisation can be achieved.

Ultimately the university plans to have single user name and log-in passwords for its PeopleSoft systems including the nDeva student administration system, the CECIL teaching system, and NetAccount, which manages printer, photocopier, internet and email accounts.

The university also used the time out to look at how Active Directory would fit with the broader objective of a general university staff directory which will be part of a PeopleSoft-based portal under development.

The plan is now to implement the first stage of the Active Directory project in March.

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