Omni eControl and EMU Help Beech Grove City Schools Focus on Server Virtualization and Linux Migration Projects
"We have been very excited to delegate the responsibility to provision eDirectory and GroupWise user accounts to front-line staff so they don't have to wait for us," said Teresa Kratzer, Technology Supervisor for Beech Grove City Schools. "They can successfully carry out these tasks with zero rights. As far as ease of use, I don't think eControl's point-and-click web-based interface could be any simpler."
Beech Grove City Schools is a K-12 school district located in Beech Grove, Indiana. The district consists of 2,200 students, 300 staff, five schools – and a very busy technology team of four.
It is an exciting time at the district right now. Integrity Network Solutions, an Indiana-based Novell and Omni Partner, is helping Beech Grove complete a major server virtualization project. Twenty-two servers will be consolidated into 15 new OES servers running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. Except for one Novell NetWare box to run some legacy applications, the school district has completely migrated to Linux. There's more – the team is deploying two new SANs, rolling out new WYSE virtual desktops, embarking on a 1:1 laptop access initiative for students, and working with the City of Beech Grove on a "Wireless City" project.
With all of these high-level, strategic initiatives on the go, it is a wonder how Beech Grove can keep up with the more routine and everyday user account management tasks – things like user account provisioning, resetting student passwords, releasing intruder lockout, enabling/disabling accounts and bulk managing user identities. That's where Omni eControl and EMU fit – and help Beech Grove's technology team do more with less and focus on their virtualization and Linux migration projects.
Beech Grove City Schools used to have a tech at each of their five schools to look after routine user account provisioning and management tasks. Due to budget cuts, the team lost two techs and could no longer handle account creation on their own. Approximately 30 to 50 new student accounts are provisioned each month and this consumes at least one hour per day for each of the techs.
"The standard Novell administation tools for managing and provisioning eDirectory and GroupWise accounts – ConsoleOne and iManager– are far too complex for Beech Grove's teachers to use," said Teresa Kratzer, Technology Supervisor for Beech Grove City Schools. "Plus, I would prefer not to give non-technical users full administrator rights in eDirectory, GroupWise and the file system to do simple password resets or to create a user account."
Ideally, Beech Grove was looking for a way to delegate user provisioning and management to teachers and secretarial staff – without having to give them any administrator rights or access to ConsoleOne and iManager. Something that is quick, simple, controlled and would empower front-line staff to assist students on the fly.
Beech Grove consulted with their trusted Novell Platinum Partner, Integrity Network Solutions, and was introduced to Omni eControl. Based on Integrity Network's recommendation and successful eControl deployments at Indiana-based Frankfort Community Schools and numerous other K-12 districts globally, Beech Grove moved ahead with a trial installation.
Omni eControl was designed with ease-of-use as the top priority. Non-technical users are not interested in learning a complex application to carry out their tasks. With eControl, network administrators control the tasks and users that can be managed by a junior administrator, teacher or even student helper. These users do not require any knowledge of directory or mail systems. They simply login, search for a user account, right-click on that account and point-and-click to carry out routine tasks. While Beech Grove is a pure Novell environment, Omni eControl also can be used to manage Microsoft-only and mixed GroupWise, eDirectory, Active Directory and Exchange networks from a single browser.
"Beech Grove has used Omni EMU for six years. And even with eControl in place, we continue to use EMU for bulk managing and provisioning user accounts," said Kratzer. "For example, EMU came in really handy during the Linux migration to re-create 2,200 student accounts in a morning – including creating their eDirectory and GroupWise accounts, setting group memberships, modifying passwords and account information, creating home directories, creating volume restrictions and more."
Omni eControl and EMU allow Beech Grove City Schools to leverage their existing Novell investment and to do more with less. The technology team has been able to focus on the server virtualization initiative, Linux migration and other high-level, strategic IT priorities; teachers are now empowered to carry out routine user management and provisioning tasks for students in their class without any knowledge of eDirectory or Novell's engineer-oriented management tools and most importantly, without having to wait for someone from IT to make time for their user management requests.
"We have been very excited to delegate the responsibility to provision user accounts to front-line staff, so they don't have to wait for us," said Kratzer. "They can successfully carry out these tasks with zero rights. As far as ease of use, I don't think eControl's point-and-click web-based interface could be any simpler. We are now looking at the possibility of managing 3,000 user accounts for the City of Beech Grove using Omni eControl and EMU."
"Integrity Network Solutions has been instrumental in helping us get our Linux servers online and assisting with our Novell technology needs. I have always liked dealing with Omni's technical support team as they are very helpful and knowledgeable. Novell's and Omni's solutions have been very stable and reliable."