On 6 March 2019, Distance University became the second university to switch to SWITCH edu-ID for authentication and access to its services. Here is an extract from their experience:
IT as a driving force
The project was primarily carried out by the IT department – supported by Marketing. All information had to be written in German and French. Student managers, who act as the first contact persons for teachers and students, were trained in advance by IT.
It took about 1.5 years from the initial discussions with SWITCH to the completion of the project. Distance University IT spent in total one man-month developing and testing the technical implementation. In addition, project management and communication were particularly time-consuming.
Information campaign as key
The Distance University launched an information campaign in the summer of 2018, thus persuading 75% of the university members to create an edu-ID account. The scenario “Linking before day X” was used for current users. The creation/linking of the account was simple and user acceptance correspondingly high.
However, there is always a group of people who do not respond to communicative measures. These had to be caught by the support. Since the number of persons with affiliation can also be tracked in the edu-ID Organisation Administrator interface, it was possible to specifically contact persons without a linked edu-ID and estimate how many would knock at the end at support.
“The universities should try to reach as many users as possible in advance so that they are already equipped with a linked edu-ID at the time of the changeover. This saves time and effort.”
Support: plan- and manageable
Those users who requested support after the migration had usually forgotten their password, as the account had already been created a few months earlier and had not been actively used. Also some duplicates had to be cleaned up.
SWITCH solved more complex cases, e.g. when students or employees could no longer access Webmail and therefore not reset the password for the edu-ID account.
The migration took place on a Wednesday. Until the weekend, more support requests were received – after which the number of incoming tickets quickly returned to normal. Both the Distance University and SWITCH had prepared themselves accordingly.
Benefit for the Distance University
The Distance University primarily offers web services – a part was already accessible via AAI or edu-ID. After the migration, teachers and students now have only one login.
Being able to decommission the operation of the Shibboleth IdP – a critical component for operation – was also a motivation for switching to SWITCH edu-ID.
For the HR department, the effort is reduced because users can maintain their data themselves with edu-ID.
Once all data has been cleaned up, the Distance University will also connect to edu-ID for access to Office365 and of course use eduroam via edu-ID as soon as this feature is available.