The Problem: Time Management
Time management is a problem many IT departments face; often there is just not enough time to complete all the requests in the time they need to be completed by. This is especially true between the times of student registration and the first student day of school. The IT staff is burdened with making hundreds, if not thousands, of Active Directory user changes and new accounts. Active Directory serves as the central source of user accounts for a long list of applications including G Suite for Education, Microsoft Office 365, PIVOT, Canvas, Student Information Systems, Content Filters, and many more.
The Solution: Account Management through PowerShell
PowerShell is an object-based scripting language written for system automation. It excels at repeatable tasks and is widely used for Active Directory user maintenance. PowerShell is the ideal tool to save a lot of time creating user accounts.
To have consistent results in PowerShell, we need to have a good data export, and that is done via a data export from the Student Information System (SIS). Once the data export is complete, PowerShell can import the data, check for errors, and perform an action for each row of data. This can include creating a new user, adding a user to a group, or even resetting the users’ passwords — all faster than the blink of an eye. Does your IT department have limited programming knowledge? No problem! Five-Star can work alongside your team to write the scripts and even train your team on how to use them.
Take It To The Next Level: PowerShell Automation
With PowerShell automation, we can nearly take the IT department out of the equation for student Active Directory account modifications and new accounts. Five-Star can set up Active Directory Automation (ADA) that automatically runs on a preset schedule using the data directly from the SIS export to manage student accounts. ADA checks the SIS export for data errors, performs account management, and emails results to a technician or data person to resolve the data errors in the SIS. Inactive user cleanup can disable student user accounts when the student is withdrawn. ADA can be customized to work with any Organizational Unit (OU) structure and requires no special hardware; it runs on an Active Directory Domain controller.
Conclusion: Active Directory Automation
Automation is essential for consistent user accounts, in the right groups, and in the correct OU’s. New accounts are created quickly — no more waiting on the technician to set up a new student. It just works! The password checking feature ensures the student Active Directory password matches the password the student was given from the SIS. IT staff know exactly what ADA is doing from the easily searchable email results, which makes troubleshooting a breeze. ADA combined with automated user provisioning for G Suite for Education and Microsoft Office 365 provides a truly seamless solution for student account management. This level of automation allows IT staff to focus on the direct needs of the students and educators instead of being tied up doing data entry. This is putting time in where it counts!
Written by Alan Israel