Empowering Students With The Power of Identity

Founded in 1819, Norwich University was the first private military college in the United States and the birthplace of Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). The university has over 5,000 students in their undergraduate and graduate programs, which consists of 60% ROTC students and 40% civilian students. The graduate program’s growth has been phenomenal over the past 10 years and can be attributed to bolstering the economic growth of the university overall. This growth, however, has uncovered business challenges that required a solution to streamline IT operations and increase efficiency.

There were several challenges that pushed Norwich University to consider SailPoint for their identity needs. First, the graduate program was 100% online. Norwich University understood the importance of maintaining an IT environment their students and faculty could safely and securely work within, while also providing a simplified user experience. Perley Dexter, Director of IT Systems received funding for the project, for an initial period, only. He was asked to show the value of the solution in hopes to receive additional support with continuing to evolve the school’s identity program. Perley knew the most pressing issue was getting a password management solution up and running for the grad school, giving remote students a more streamlined and secure onboarding process. After this was in place, he could focus on what he really wanted to tackle – provisioning. After implementing IdentityNow, new students could manage and reset their passwords all without calling the Helpdesk or verifying their identities over the phone.

Once the University had password management in place, Perley turned his attention towards provisioning. Due to the short deployment cycle that this SaaS solution offers, they had the provisioning process completely automated in three short months. “This was a huge win for the University,” Perley said. When IdentityNow aggregates the data in their student information system, Banner, and sees a new account in the correct identity profile, it creates an Active Directory and email account. It then sends an email to the user’s personal email address welcoming them to the university and inviting them to log-in to IdentityNow to change their password and set up their password challenge questions. Norwich University was manually running these reports every morning prior to IdentityNow and would only run once per day. Now they can scan for new account requests multiple times a day, unassisted. “Implementing this piece of IdentityNow fixed 90% of our provisioning issues and saved two full days per month in administrative time creating accounts. Our customer satisfaction and usability rates have increased dramatically,” Perley said.

Norwich University has seen incredible ROI from leveraging IdentityNow, that’s cloud-native architecture runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and leverages the platform’s security, availability and elasticity. Perley’s team is continuing to evolve their identity governance implementation with access requests and certifications. This will allow them to review the rights users have and put the ownership on the department to approve or revoke access on a routine basis. “With SailPoint, our IT team is empowered to focus on tackling broader IT strategies and delivering on actionable goals. SailPoint IdentityNow is a critical security solution for us.”

Perley shared his reflections on why Norwich University decided to go with a SaaS model for their identity governance program:

  1. Shorter time to delivery and ease of implementation: Perley needed to see results quickly to gain advocacy for the program. They also could have potentially faced serious security issues if their provisioning and password management processes were not addressed quickly. Implementing IdentityNow, allowed them to be up and running much quicker than if they had gone with an on-premise solution. SaaS applications are simple to scale, and as the university continues to grow, they will need that flexibility.
  2. Resource costs are lower: Perley simply did not have the time himself or the resources to maintain and run their identity systems and infrastructure. With a SaaS solution, their internal resource costs were minimized, making it an economical choice for the university.
  3. Access to innovation: It is important for their IT infrastructure to be competitive with other universities. An investment such as this needed to be one that gave them that advantage as they continue to scale. A SaaS solution allows them to have the most recent technology in the market, immediately after new capabilities are released.