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Northwestern University Delivers a Seamless User Experience with Google Apps Single Sign-On and Customization

"The quality of the development work is very good."

- Ron Blitz, Technical Services Analyst, Northwestern University

Northwestern University Delivers a Seamless User Experience with Google Apps Single Sign-On and Customization

Customer

Northwestern University is a private institution with campuses in Chicago and Evanston, Illinois.

Challenges

Northwestern University needed a seamless and integrated way to allow their students to “opt-in” to Google Apps email accounts via their own intranet system. This would have to be done in a way that would produce the least administrative overhead on their end, and allow students to provision and manage accounts themselves. The provisioning process would be based on various eligibility parameters pre-determined by Northwestern University.

They also needed a system to flag users who have opted in for FERPA protection – a federal mandate which protects the identity of students so that the accounts created for these students take a different form than those who have not selected such protection.

Solution

SADA used Google Apps APIs to create an opt-in process to check and validate a requestor’s eligibility, create the account if eligible, choose a password, and create nicknames. SADA’s application had to query Northwestern University’s LDAP and make a CGI call to determine eligibility and determine usernames for Apps. Northwestern University required an intricate process by which our system would check for duplicates and create names based on a schema they developed. There is also a management interface that allows the student to manage their account after it has been created.

Result

All incoming and existing students will have the ability to create their own Google Apps accounts. Also, the existing Northwestern University identity management systems are fully integrated with the Apps account management process. They dictate from a central, non-Google Apps interface the parameters under which students can create accounts, and track back in their systems when and if these accounts are created.

This will allow Northwestern University to have Google Apps as their primary platform for delivering email services to all of their eligible students, and to greatly reduce the administrative overhead of managing email in an on-premise system.

“I just wanted to let you know that we feel that SADA is doing a very good job on the LawSchool and Single Sign-on projects for Northwestern. The quality of the development work is very good and I have found very few issues during testing. Both [SADA’s Director of Web Development] and [SADA’s lead developer] are sticking to the schedule as planned and we anticipate a very smooth deployment with these three new web pages before the next semester begins at Northwestern. Thanks for the good work.” – Ron Blitz, Northwestern University Technical Services Analyst.

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