Yuba Community College District had an email solution for its staff but did not provide students with email. Then it subscribed to Microsoft Live@edu and provisioned 85,000 accounts for staff and students. It saved U.S.$40,000 annually in licensing and maintenance costs and improved IT staff productivity by 10 percent. Now students are more productive with anywhere, anytime access to email, coursework, calendars, and contacts. Business Needs
Yuba Community College District (YCCD) is in northern California. A 13-person IT department at YCCD maintains the IT infrastructure that supports the learning environment at the district’s five facilities. Until recently, the IT department provided the 400 faculty and 250 staff members with an on-premises email solution from CommuniGate Systems. However, YCCD was unable to offer email to its students.
“We wanted to provide staff and students up-to-date messaging and collaboration services, but with budget cuts in California, we have to work within tight financial constraints,” says Karen Trimble, Director, Information Technologies at Yuba Community College District.
YCCD looked at expanding its CommuniGate solution to include students as well, but because the district maintains separate domains for students and faculty members, it proved difficult to load and maintain student data in the one system. To facilitate student–faculty communications, the IT department deployed MyCampus, a portal solution based on Microsoft SharePoint technologies. Staff uses the portal as a communication tool to broadcast campus announcements and class-based calendars, and students can post and share documents for individual classes.
“We didn’t give up on the idea of providing the same messaging and collaboration services for both faculty and students,” says Trimble. “However, to log on to the portal, the students used @go.ycc.edu and the faculty used @yccd.edu, and we didn’t want to force anyone to change. Also, we wanted a solution with better calendaring than CommuniGate—one that would interoperate with our portal. We focused on cloud-based offerings because they are cost-effective and would simplify our work.”
||Many of our students don’t have home computers with Microsoft Office. Office Web Apps gives them online versions of Office programs so they can keep up with their homework. They’re absolutely thrilled!
Director, Information Technologies, Yuba Community College District
Yuba Community College District chose Microsoft Live@edu, a no-cost suite of communication and collaboration services hosted by Microsoft that includes Microsoft Outlook Live web-based email, which provides 10 gigabytes (GB) of storage per user; Microsoft Office Web Apps, online companions to Microsoft Office programs, which students can use to view, create, and edit documents online; and Windows Live SkyDrive storage technology, which provides 25 GB of online storage per user.
“Microsoft assured us they do not scan email content for targeting ads and reaffirmed the security and the privacy of our data. Also, Microsoft keeps adding services to Live@edu, and it integrates with our SharePoint portal.”
YCCD worked with SADA Systems, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network with Gold competencies, to set up a single subscription to Live@edu for both students and staff. Students came online in August 2010 and faculty followed in January 2011. SADA and the district deployed two servers running Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Manager 2007 to automate the provisioning of student and faculty accounts, based on the attributes of each group defined in the district’s Active Directory Domain Services directory. SADA implemented the Microsoft Password Change Notification Service for both types of users so that password synchronization would work with Active Directory. “SADA Systems had the right technical expertise, and we achieved our goal of having everyone on the same messaging and collaboration solution so students can access all the Live@edu services with a single password,” says Trimble.
“SADA enjoyed working with the YCCD engineering team, whose relentless drive for seamless product integration was only exceeded by their ability to meet very ambitions timelines set forth mutually by both parties,” adds Anton Sarkisov, Solutions Engineer at SADA Systems.
YCCD provisioned approximately 85,000 Live@edu accounts, including all staff and all students who have registered in the last three academic years. Benefits
Today, Yuba Community College District faculty and students are using Microsoft online messaging and collaboration services to build a more connected campus in order to improve the learning environment. Students are gaining hands-on experience with communication technologies they are likely to use in the workplace.
Despite a limited IT budget, YCCD now offers students online email and collaboration services where they had none before. Because faculty and staff are included in the same Live@edu subscription, employees are enjoying improved calendaring and collaboration services, all for less cost. “Compared to our previous solution, Live@edu is saving us [U.S.]$32,000 annually in licensing and server/storage costs, and an additional $8,000 annually in staff costs,” says Trimble. “Now we can allocate $40,000 toward other strategic goals.”
Improved Learning Experience
More and more YCCD students are discovering the convenience of using Office Web Apps and Windows Live SkyDrive to work productively outside of the campus. “Live@edu is so much more than email,” says Trimble. “Many of our students don’t have home computers with Microsoft Office. Office Web Apps gives them online versions of Office programs so they can keep up with their homework. They’re absolutely thrilled!”
The interoperability between Live@edu and the college’s portal simplifies life for busy students. “Now students can retrieve email, access Office documents, work collaboratively on projects, and share calendars to arrange meetings with faculty members all in one place,” says Trimble.
Since subscribing to Live@edu, IT staff members have saved time through simplified management tasks. “The change in our email solution is resulting in an average productivity increase of roughly 10 percent due to fewer hours spent on maintenance tasks,” says Trimble. “With Live@edu, I don’t have to manage an on-premises Microsoft Exchange solution, and we get all the messaging and collaboration capabilities we need.”
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