Established in 1911 and named in honour of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the seventh Prime Minister of Canada, Wilfrid Laurier University (Wilfrid Laurier) offers a full range of undergraduate and graduate programs in a variety of fields. Wilfrid Laurier is one of Canada’s top schools, consistently ranking in the top 5 confirmed by Maclean’s magazine’s annual rankings.
SADA Systems, Inc. (https://www.sada.com) is a privately held information technology consulting, outsourcing, and development firm founded in 2000. SADA started as a Google partner for its search technology, and is proud to be one of the world’s first 10 Google Apps partners, having participated in the Google Apps official launch campaign in February of 2007. SADA is highly experienced in Google Apps migration, implementation and deployment for education sector having handled over 200 education projects to date.
Wilfrid Laurier had previously been utilizing Groupwise and was interested in upgrading their student email system to incorporate more comprehensive collaboration and communication educational functionalities. And after experiencing several unexpected GroupWise server shut downs, Wilfrid Laurier was ready to move to Google Apps for Education. The transition for the over 15,000 students required special care to ensure that there was no end-user confusion or loss to overall productivity.
Wilfrid Laurier engaged SADA Systems in developing a change management solution. With SADA’s help, Wilfrid Laurier 1) provided a Google Apps opt-in mechanism for students to choose whether or not they wanted to migrate their email data in Google Apps, 2) implemented a single sign-on solution so students could use their GroupWise credentials to access Google Apps and 3) helped implement password synchronization between GroupWise and Google Apps. These steps helped maintain steady email traffic and mitigated the amount of calls to the university’s IT help desk regarding the change in email system. SADA’s opt-in approach also distributing load on legacy infrastructure during migration. Students were given the opportunity to opt-in later if they opted-out of the Google Apps migration initially.
SADA’s SSO solution provided an attractive log-in page and ensured that students would only need to remember one set of credentials to log-in to the Google Apps web interface.
Finally, password sync allows users to use their GroupWise password on mobile devices and Google Talk. Wilfrid Laurier implemented a solution for password synchronization between Google Apps and GroupWise using Novell Universal Password. However, passwords must be updated at least once per user in eDirectory for Universal Password to propagate properly for the user. SADA’s custom developed solution was to update the user’s password in GroupWise upon SSO login if it has not been updated before.
With SADA’s assistance with a custom opt-in platform, web SSO and password sync, Wilfrid Laurier University was able to complete a seamless transition from GroupWise to Google Apps. Students had complete control over when to migrate their email data minimizing the load on IT resources. The gradual transition away from their legacy email platform helped IT staff better manage and anticipate issues with the migration.
Wilfrid Laurier has since migrated over 12,000 of its total users and is already seeing improvements to efficiency and big gains in productivity. Google Apps for education has increased the collaborative capability and educational prowress of WLU’s classrooms. Shared documents and calendaring are going to play a major role in the future of the university’s communicative capability.