Heriot-Watt University
Future-Proof IDM

The Challenge

With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt University has established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, leading-edge research, in turn making Heriot-Watt one of the top UK universities for business and industry. In addition, the university is also Scotland’s most international university, delivering degree programmes to 31,000 students globally.

In 2014, facing a significant upgrade to its existing large, unwieldly and cumbersome Identity Management (IDM) solution, the university set out to replace it with technology that could operate at enterprise scale, whilst being easy to manage. The university wished to identify a technology partner not only to assist with the initial deployment but also to support the future growth and expansion of the system. This ‘long term view’ was something that the university had not benefited from with the existing IDM technology, and was therefore a key requirement for the new solution.

The Solution

The solution implemented by ProofID was a deployment of NetIQ Identity Manager, which linked the university’s authoritative sources of identity, the HR and Student Record Systems, with a number of enterprise applications used by staff and students every day, providing automated provisioning and de-provisioning of user accounts.

In addition, the solution included ProofID’s user lifecycle management system, ARMS. Widely deployed in UK Higher Education institutions, ARMS provides end-to-end user lifecycle management, including delegated approval workflows, for external users.

Neil Morris, Head of Applications (IS) at the University, explains theuniversity’s selection process:

“The Proof of Concept delivered and presented onsite by ProofID proved to us that NetIQ was the right technology, which met our criteria of a solution that was easy to use, manage and configure but scalable for our needs and plans. ProofID’s long and successful track record in deploying solutions in Academia also gave us the confidence that we had the right partner to support us going forward.”

The Results

Initially the University had only planned to replace the existing functionality with the new solution, yielding the immediate benefit of a stable and concrete platform from which to grow. However it quickly became apparent that the tight integration with the university’s new HR system in parallel with the deployment of Office 365 significantly reduced the amount of time it takes for a new member of staff to be provisioned (from 24 hours to immediate) and removed the heavily manual paper trail.

But the deployment of ARMS proved to be the biggest unexpected success. Previously users who didn’t fall into the staff or student categories were provisioned manually in a very labour intensive process, which was highly prone to errors. This led to a very high risk of users not being de-provisioned correctly and potentially retaining unauthorised access to university systems.

“ARMS was a big win for us and has proven to be one the most successful aspects of the whole project,” adds Neil. “We’re now planning to further develop the service by adding additional target applications and make the most of the NetIQ platform to streamline our processes through workflow automation.”

Tom Eggleston, Managing Director of ProofID Ltd adds,

“NetIQ Identity Manager has long been proven to be the best of breed provisioning solution for UK Academia. In combination with ARMS, the solution provides a complete user lifecycle management solution that is tailor made for the identity management challenges faced by the modern university.”

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