St. Andrew’s Episcopal School is a private school with two campuses in the metro area of Jackson, Mississippi. One campus serves children in pre-kindergarten through grade 4, and the other campus serves students in grades 5 through 12.
Tony DePrato, the school’s Chief Technology Officer, needed a cloud-based solution to support remote schooling amid the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid being overrun with password tickets.
- Organization: St. Andrew’s Episcopal School
- Location: Jackson, Mississippi
- Size: 800 students and teachers
- Problem: Remote access management & password resets
- Goal: Securely maintain a hybrid environment during COVID-19
Background: Remote Schooling During COVID-19
DePrato joined St. Andrew’s in the summer of 2020 and needed to implement a solution to support the 20-21 school year — fast. He needed to both enable teachers to work remotely and also ensure students could continue to access their resources.
Although the school had an Active Directory instance, DePrato knew it wouldn’t facilitate the hybrid learning environment that the older students needed as they alternated between online and in-person schooling.
“That entire infrastructure would have pretty much been useless,” he said. “If schools weren’t already cloud-focused, I think that really crippled them for months.”
Challenges: Lean Remote Management
As DePrato analyzed his options, he knew he needed to keep the IT operation efficient, and he couldn’t get bogged down by password tickets.
“At a school, your IT department always runs lean,” DePrato said. “Most of your money needs to go back into education. You can’t justify having three or four IT people just doing tech support.”
He also knew the stakes were high in keeping students engaged in their classes and their families happy with their experience.
“When you can’t demonstrate remote management, you start losing confidence,” DePrato said. “If you lose one family at most private schools, you’re going to lose between $12,000 and $25,000 a year. You need to streamline so you can provide quick service.”
He’d used JumpCloud at his last school, so the cloud directory platform was already on his radar, but he tested every major competitor in the market.
Solution: ‘Contactless Everything’
DePrato ultimately selected JumpCloud again because it offered a cloud-based way to provide nearly contactless IT, as well as:
- Directory integrations with Google Workspace and Microsoft 365
- SAML/SCIM for web application provisioning and SSO, including Adobe Suite and Adobe Spark products
- Cloud LDAP for legacy application authentication
- Cloud RADIUS for secure WiFi authentication, including the separate network older students use for their phones
Next summer, he’ll also begin managing the teachers’ Windows laptops through JumpCloud. Right now, the platform is key in connecting students to a broad range of resources.
“JumpCloud plays really well with Google, Microsoft, and Adobe,” DePrato said. “If you’re in K-12 education — especially grades 7-12 where students are ramping up and their parents are already talking about university — you need the full suite of products. JumpCloud integrates with all of those, and you get a true single sign-on experience.”
In most K-12 institutions, 60-70 percent of tickets are password-related, most of which DePrato has eliminated with JumpCloud. Students each have one secure password they use across resources, and DePrato can easily reset that password from a central web-based console.
“Before, we could only reset their Google password,” he said. “Their other passwords would have to be done individually. Often, they’d lock the services, but JumpCloud pretty much eliminates the service locking.”
DePrato first creates users in Google, and then he imports them into JumpCloud, which automatically federates them to Microsoft 365. He also runs a script in Microsoft 365 to apply the licenses. Then, students can access both JumpCloud- and Google-connected services, in addition to Microsoft accounts.
He can easily give students easy access to the on-campus network with cloud RADIUS, too. Previously, students authenticated to an on-premises RADIUS server, but they could lose access if they changed their password off-campus.
“The whole goal right now is to have contactless everything: fewer students at the help desk, everything remotely managed. JumpCloud did that.”
DePrato also realized that textbook companies are moving toward SAML login for e-textbooks, and they recognize students by their Google login. Through JumpCloud, he configured a system in which families can purchase used textbooks, authenticate to online providers, and access electronic resources without buying new access codes. Families save as much as 75 percent on their online textbook fees now.
“Literally, within 24 hours, we had an app worked out so kids go to our website, hit a button, log in with their JumpCloud accounts, and get access,” he said. “If we can help them save on every textbook that requires some type of electronic resource, that’s big savings.”
Implementation: Rolling Out to Remote Users
DePrato created a video overview of JumpCloud, and he trained teachers and then students in small group video meetings about what to do when they received their activation emails.
“It didn’t take that long,” he said. “It took about 2.5 to 3 weeks to activate everybody, and that was in a mostly remote situation.”
During the upcoming summer holiday, he’ll then use JumpCloud’s Active Directory Migration Utility to convert teachers’ Windows domain accounts to local user accounts on their laptops so he can manage them through JumpCloud. He didn’t do it previously because he wanted to reduce the number of changes teachers experienced ahead of this school year. He anticipates this change to be fairly simple with JumpCloud’s automated tools, though, and it will help the IT team reduce costs.
“We were able to afford JumpCloud within the budget we have,” DePrato said. “Once we take the load off our existing servers, we won’t have to replace them. That’s a one time cost that would be around $16,000 of hardware and licensing. Going forward, we won’t need to mess with that at all.”
The Result: A Toolkit
DePrato said JumpCloud provides IT administrators with the tools they need to create unique solutions for their environments — like his textbook access solution that nets big savings for families.
“JumpCloud is a toolkit. Once you understand the toolkit, you can start to get creative with it.”
JumpCloud is a comprehensive directory platform that provides device management, user identity management, and resource access — no matter the location or provider. JumpCloud also offers highly discounted services for educational institutions.
Get started with JumpCloud today.