David Douglas School District
Automated Account Provisioning and Cloud application management increases efficiency
David Douglas School District
- An automated method for managing user account lifecycle and Self-Service Reset Password Manager saves the helpdesk over half of their day to day efforts.
- HelloID’s Single Sign-On portal makes having a 1:1 in class device ratio using Chromebooks and Macs easy.
Located in eastern Portland, OR, David Douglas School District serves approximately 10,000 K12 students enrolled within a 12 square mile range. David Douglas operates 16 separate facilities and remotely supports an Early Childhood program for the local community of 54,000 in pursuit of its mission statement – summarized by "Learn Grow Thrive."
As David Douglas adopted newer technology and resources, manually supporting the numerous locations on-premises – particularly creating and provisioning user accounts – became an increasingly challenging endeavor. When something went wrong, "all hands were on deck to investigate," said Network Admin Shawn Sutliff, only to regularly discover externally-originating issues. Navigating 3rd party support turned into a common, painful process of hurry-up and wait. Knowing this building-by-building approach was not sustainable, Sutliff and System Admin Roy Wagner needed an alternative solution capable of centralizing and automating system and account management.
1st Implementation (2014): UMRA, SSRPM, PSM
With previous UMRA experience at Reynolds School District and growing word-of-mouth endorsement among Portland's close-knit, educational IT community, David Douglas chose Tools4ever. UMRA became the first step towards automating their Synergy SIS, AD, and Google Account systems. David Douglas's UMRA project also coincided with the district's greenfield Active Directory migration project: "We thought that UMRA would operate as more of an add-on, but Tools4ever's consultants helped build the OU structure" to help ensure seamless integration, said Sutliff.
Instead of a weeks-long, manual process, Sutliff knows "when a staff-member comes online, they have everything in a day." UMRA has "probably cut time in half for day-to-day management efforts," he added. The new solution brought to light years-old user accounts still residing within systems – "we didn't even know how bad it was." Further, UMRA has helped integrate all of David Douglas' other departments with IT to help transition support from reactionary to proactive – extending even to security features for emergency scenarios, such as rapidly removing card access to physical facilities.
Self-Service Reset Password Management (SSRPM) also grew into a David Douglas favorite for reducing their helpdesk workload. Password reset issues have remained a prevalent challenge within education, but David Douglas' IT staff no longer has to hunt down user and app info or contact a 3rd party for specific resets. "I forgot how bad it was," laughed Sutliff.
"We were able to roll the whole thing out by the beginning of the school year."
Shawn Sutliff, Network Administrator
2nd Implementation (2016): HelloID
With UMRA and SSRPM, David Douglas’ staff were able to direct efforts towards higher priority tasks and initiatives – most notably whether to adopt a 1:1, in-class device ratio using Chromebooks and Macs. To support 1:1, however, David Douglas would need a Single Sign-On solution that also resolved their mobile login issues with Google Accounts. Time was running out to finalize a summer implementation.
A neighboring district developed a homegrown ADFS, but David Douglas determined its management would reclaim all the time and effort that UMRA had just saved. The SSO solutions David Douglas initially researched required external tickets and the IT staff was still wary of 3rd party support. Looking at other SSOs, “everyone had a negative,” said Shawn. David Douglas discovered Tools4ever was releasing a newly-developed SSO solution and made their decision.
Facing a pressing timeline and limited buy-in, David Douglas’ team only expected a partial implementation. Instead, “we were able to roll the whole thing out by the beginning of the school year,” said Sutliff, “Tools4ever saved us 100% of the time that would have gone towards setup.” Tools4ever arranged or built from scratch all the connectors to 3rd party systems. Unsure of how resources such as WordPress would integrate with the HelloID portal, the consultants allayed David Douglas’ concerns with their knowledge of real-world education challenges and 3rd party integrations. Without Tools4ever, David Douglas “couldn’t have done what we did.”
After fully implementing a suite of Tools4ever solutions, David Douglas remained impressed. Prior to HelloID, every app required users to remember numerous credentials. Turnovers were painful as each resource was managed by a separate owner responsible for setup and maintenance, confusing staff during transitions. Unlike custom scripts that age poorly, Sutliff is confident he “can drop a Tools4ever
solution into any education environment and it works.”
Now, users love the portal and staff specifically requests new resources be made available within HelloID. Despite initial buy-in difficulties, everyone is supportive and communicating value is easy – especially with Tools4ever’s continual updates and support. Even years later, David Douglas’ IT team regularly communicates any solution issues with the “same engineer that installed it,” who is familiar with their specific environment. “I don’t have to talk to a 1,000 different people to get a solution,” Sutliff said. “You guys are the gold standard of how you support a product.”
With UMRA, SSRPM, and HelloID, David Douglas’ staff has been refocusing efforts away from those painful manual processes to more impactful projects such as the migration to an all-Juniper network and operating an additional data center featuring fault tolerance.