I have written previously about the proliferation of cloud based email solutions such as Google Apps and Microsoft's Live@edu, but the continuous growth in the public and private sectors warrants discussion of some of the challenges with these new systems. As I mentioned before, there are tremendous benefits to these systems, especially for school districts and universities, but they do create a new level of provisioning and password management to an organization's current identity management process.
These systems are not natively integrated to an organization's directory service (Active Directory, eDirectory, Open Directory) which means an additional process to the onboarding and deprovisioning policies. Additionally, because passwords are not synchronized with Active Directory, an even greater burden is placed on IT and the help desk for password resets for these accounts. Furthermore, anyone currently using either of the mentioned hosted email solutions will know that the native management tools such as Google Sync or Windows Live Admin Center are not staying current with the fast changing feature set. For example, managing dynamic distribution groups is not easily done and this is a huge disservice to Live@edu users. In Google Apps, users are now taking advantage of the new container structure but finding managing these OUs and groups with Google Sync to be an incredibly frustrating experience.
Fortunately, these organizations can partner with a company like Tools4ever who has the experience to solve these challenges and to help strengthen the business case for implementing new cloud based email systems. Tools4ever's User Management Resource Administrator (UMRA) can provide an all encompassing provisioning process that can automatically pull data from a student information system and create an Active Directory account and an account in Live@edu or Google Apps. As the student progresses and moves from different classes and grades throughout the district, UMRA will automatically keep their account up to date. UMRA can also automatically manage class email lists using data in the SIS and provide self service management options to end users, such as teachers, to easily add and remove users from email groups.
Tools4ever can also provide password management options that can link between your email and directory service. Their Password Synchronization Manager will keep passwords synchronized between each account and the Self Service Reset Password Management software will provide an end user system for resets using a challenge and response mechanism.
For more information on how Tools4ever can help keep your cloud email implementation from costing a fortune, visit our website.