DET sorts out identity problems

Identity problems take on new meaning when you're talking about 1.2 million students and 130,000 teachers at more than 2500 locations.

That's the number in the NSW Department of Education and Training's address book for its school system, but, according to Terry Reilly, project manager, identity management (IDM), phase one of allocating usernames and passwords is complete and phase two is "well under way".

Not only is the usernames list daunting, many of the users login at multiple points as the initial analysis defined. Reilly said the business case also showed that the project would need to manage access by a large number of new users while ensuring adequate security and enabling new initiatives within the IDM enabling infrastructure.

"We needed to create a single consolidated directory for all users. There are many cases of students attending both school and TAFE, or teachers who run classes in both systems, and some teachers undertaking courses at TAFE, so the source identity data included staff, teachers, school students, TAFE students and external business partners," Reilly said.

He said another objective for IDM was to develop a single authentication source, which identifies role-based information so that, at logon, correct access rights are provided. It is against this that all Internet applications authenticate unique usernames and passwords.

Reilly said DET chose Novell's e-Directory and DirXML products for the project but declined to disclose the cost of the project.

He said the IDM project has not carried the costs directly. "It has provided an enabling technology that other teams require. Reilly said after choosing the e-Directory and DirXML products, DET then built connectors between the source identity information applications, which included two student administration systems and three payrolls.

"The IDM project has four staff salaries and the data centre equipment includes three computers and a layer four switch." DET has leveraged existing educational licensing arrangements for the e-Directory software licences.

"The development costs for connectors to e-Directory have been shared by the business project teams delivering new e-business services in line with the connect.nsw whole-of-government strategy," he said.

Reilly said the already completed phase one of IDM saw a TAFE e-services pilot go live in November 2001 to around 15,000 students who were granted usernames and passwords to update their personal details and to access end-of-year results. The staff e-services went live in December 2001 as a pilot of annual leave details for more than 3000 DET state office staff.

"The e-Directory now has loaded 130,000 teachers and staff and 500,000 TAFE students from the current databases."

Reilly said the recent NSW Government announcement regarding e-mail and Internet access for all students, teachers and staff, is a project for which the tender for the ISP services had been in the pipeline for a while as DET has been preparing this infrastructure.

"The IDM system will interface with the ISP directory. DET will create the unique user ID for all students, teachers and staff and forward these authorised identities to the ISP vendor, Unisys, so the DET e-Directory and ISP active directory will be synchronised," he said.

Reilly said that school students will be added to the e-Directory as soon as the pilot rollout of the ISP services to schools begins this year.

"We have developed an interface program to the schools OASIS Student Administration server which lets schools forward students' details over the intranet. The details are loaded into the IDM system e-Directory and allocated a unique user name and an initial password," he said.

Reilly said DET publishes the staff data in the IDM system to the (NSW Government standard in-house) X500 White Pages on a daily basis to provide the department with an up-to-date directory of staff movements.

Reilly said with the adoption of e-business applications across the organisation, the IDM technology is expected to expand rapidly as a core infrastructure service within all organisations.

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