This article was first published in the Summer 2015 issue of OnWindows
Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) is one of the largest universities in the UK, and Mike Preece has the majestic job of looking after its solutions architecture.
“We have nearly 40,000 students, plus thousands of faculty and professional staff,” he says. “Every year, approximately 10,000 people arrive and 10,000 people leave – our organisation is in continual flux. Keeping on top of that is a major operation.”
MMU originally approached IAM Cloud when it was looking to make the move to Office 365 from Microsoft’s Live@Edu service, which it had been using as its main student e-mail and calendaring system.
“Office 365 is a very powerful service, but it’s also quite complex,” says Preece. “We thought we had to implement ADFS in order to enable federation, but when we met IAM Cloud, they showed us another way that required a lot less work.”
Shortly after IAM Cloud began working with MMU on the project, it picked up on a change in the solution, which meant that the organisation would no longer be able to provide single sign-on from the student portal into the e-mail system.
“I know a number of other universities weren’t aware of this problem, made the mistake and couldn’t resolve it,” says Preece.
IAM Cloud went away and developed a solution to the problem, and at the same time created a feature it could market to other organisations. “It was very much a win-win situation,” says Preece.
Over time, the two organisations have co-created other solutions in the same manner, including the ‘Cloud Drive Mapper’ feature of IAM Cloud, which has since become one of the solution’s most popular features.
“Something we’d been looking to do for a while was use Microsoft OneDrive as a replacement to our students’ network storage,” says Preece. “We wanted to create mapped drives straight into the OneDrive for Business storage area, but no one had a solution. So we spoke to IAM Cloud to see if they could do anything. They quickly came back to us to let us know they’d developed something that could achieve this. Cloud Drive Mapper really helps us make the best use of Office 365, and is helping us move everything locally to the cloud.”
Preece explains that one of the best things about working with IAM Cloud is that he can get in touch with them whenever he needs advice. “They’ve helped us out countless times, regardless of whether it’s been in their remit or not,” he says. “We’ve really enjoyed working with IAM Cloud, and we’ve got a lot from the partnership.”
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