CBC adds ID management to directory services

TORONTO — The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. is about to begin the rollout of identity management technology that an executive said will radically simplify access to information and the administration of accounts for more than 10,000 employees.

The

broadcaster said on Friday it will be streamlining account and password management using software from Novell Canada Ltd. The project will include the integration of Novell’s GroupWise with its eDirectory service, which has been in place at the CBC for 10 years. Staff at CBC Technology and Novell celebrated the anniversary of the eDirectory implementation — which dates back to the days when it was still called Novell Directory Services — with a cake-cutting ceremony in Toronto.

David Jeffrey, director of operations and regional media production support for CBC Technology, said the identity management project is happening in conjunction with the development of a new security policy at the CBC. Identity management will also become more critical when the CBC launches an HR portal at the end of next month that will allow employees to access benefits information and change their address, among other functions.

Jeffrey said increased security was only one of the reasons the CBC wants to improve identity management throughout the Crown corporation. “”We’ve also been faced with a lot of Microsoft server applications and Active Directory coming in,”” he said. “”We need to hold all that in one directory.””

The result, Jeffrey said, will mean users can authenticate themselves once instead of several logons. The CBC started looking at proof of concepts for identity management last February, but the real preparation work began in April, he said.

The CBC represents one of Novell Canada’s most long-standing marquee customers. According to Jeffrey, the relationship began to evolve when the broadcaster moved to NetWare 4 and started centralizing the management of its servers. At that time, the organization had no CTO, but spread out technology management functions among a group of regional MIS directors.

Novell Directory Services were chosen in 1994 and were completely up and running a year later, supporting 60 locations across the country, with 9,000 workstations connected to eDirectory today. The CBC eventually adopted Novell ZenWorks Desktop Management four years ago to reduce its total cost of ownership.

Novell Canada vice-president and general manager Don Chapman said the CBC has an unusually large body of technology-savvy internal IT staff who have ensured the implementation of its Novell products remain consistent over time.

“”The standard in broadcasts is 100 per cent uptime. They can’t have dead air,”” Chapman pointed out. “”They expect that same reliability in other parts of the organization as well.””

While Chapman said tools like ZenWorks can offer a return on investment within less than 90 days, Jeffrey said the identity management project is primarily intended to increase productivity. The project will allow employees to make changes to their password via a secure Web site, which will be replicated in the CBC’s metadirectory, for example.

“”If you see the calls we get to our hotline for password changes . . . if we can keep that volume down, that will certainly reduce our administration costs.””

Now that Novell has bought SuSE and is offering a variety of Linux products, Jeffrey said the CBC is also starting to take a closer look at open source and is planning to run some pilot projects in non-critical parts of the organization sometime next year.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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