NWAEA At a Glance
Northwest Area Education Agency (AEA) is an educational partner with 35 public school districts and 35 accredited, private schools in a 10-county area of northwest Iowa, serving over 43,000 students.
The mission of Northwest AEA is to provide visionary leadership and quality, student-centered services through relationships with families, schools, and communities.
Interview with Bradey Malloy, Network Technician, NWAEA
Q: How would you describe your infrastructure?
BM: We’re about 95% Macs. We’ve got maybe 40 Chromebooks. And we’re down to about 25 Windows machines.
Q: What were you using for directory services?
BM: Previously we used Active Directory® as our core directory, but we also started getting into Google Apps. All of our users also have Office 365 accounts.
Q: What problems were you facing with this setup?
BM: What we were running into was that users never really knew what user credentials they needed to login to specific things. That became a big issue because we were always getting support calls asking us, “Which password do I need to use?”
Q: What worked well?
BM: Honestly, not a lot when it came to the directory. Being 95% Mac, Active Directory kind of just became a sideshow for us. It wasn’t used for much and it was just something that required a lot of my attention for no purpose really.
Q: How efficient was this system?
BM: From an administrative standpoint, if a new user came into the organization or we had a user retire, we had to jump into all of these various different management portals to delete those users or add new users. Since the Macs were just locally managed accounts, there were lots of trips out to school districts or other sites of ours to work on those devices.
Q: Why move to Directory-as-a-Service®?
BM: I started following JumpCloud probably about three years ago. I kept an eye on them and just watched as the product grew and grew and grew. We jumped all in about a year ago and it’s just one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. I’ve been very happy with it.
Q: How has JumpCloud changed your workflow?
BM: There have been a lot of positives. With JumpCloud, we add a new user and JumpCloud pushes it to Google, pushes it to Office 365. Just like that, we’ve got that user in all three services with the same password. Take something as simple as a teacher getting married and changing their last name. Now I just go into JumpCloud, update the name there, and it changes her email address and username automatically, across the board. This works with Macs, Windows, and Chromebooks.
Q: How has it changed your infrastructure?
BM: Previously, we had 7 domain controllers and I decommissioned all but two of them and the only reason I’m keeping those alive are for my Windows servers and an RDS server that still requires Active Directory.
Note: JumpCloud has developed custom attributes, a schema extensibility feature, to eliminate the need for these domain controllers.
Q: What is the effect on students and faculty?
BM: First and foremost, our users are extremely happy. Since we’re using their Google credentials as their core identity, they’re able to use that one set of credentials for logging on to the WiFi, on to their Mac computers, their Windows computers, and web apps – virtually anything. Also, they have the self-service portal – so they can go in and change their own passwords now. That saves us time too. So both sides are extremely happy.
Q: Do you have any advice for fellow IT admins in education?
BM: Definitely look into it. JumpCloud is a great product. Evaluate the product and see how it can help you manage your identities, I think you’ll find that it can serve many purposes.
To listen to Bradey’s full interview and see JumpCloud’s Directory-as-a-Service® in action for an Edu audience, watch Moving Your Directory to the Cloud.