Empowering YES Prep with cloud-based modern identity and access solutions

YES Prep Public Schools engaged Oxford Computer Group to help them build an elegant, cloud-based identity and access management solution that would unite disparate IT systems.

In the education vertical, problems associated with identity and access are exacerbated by the sheer number of systems educators use day-to-day. For a teacher, time spent signing into 30 distinct portals is time taken away from lesson planning and designing curricula to give students the best opportunities to succeed. While there have never been more tools at a teacher’s disposal, these tools can become burdens if they can’t be accessed easily and securely.

YES Prep, a charter school based in Houston, Texas, realized it could no longer pass this administrative burden on to its educators and limited IT staff. YES Prep’s CIO, Richard Charlesworth understood that YES Prep needed to move away from using a myriad of on-premises systems and adopt a modern, cloud-based approach that could be enabled with single sign-on from one pane of glass, all while maintaining federal and state student data privacy requirements. To attain this vision, YES Prep engaged Oxford Computer Group (OCG).

All the other vendors we talked to said it would cost millions of dollars and be nearly impossible. But OCG grasped exactly what we were trying to do and provided a cost-effective path to get there using Microsoft Azure. – Richard Charlesworth

Adopting a cloud-first mentality

In K-12 education, the days of on-premises systems are numbered. Given their IT budgets, the typical district simply can’t manage the complexities and security concerns associated with maintaining all of these systems. By contrast, much of that complexity can be pulled into the cloud and handled behind the scenes – it is just far easier to develop a single pane of glass view in a cloud environment. – Steve Brugger, President, Oxford Computer Group.

OCG began pulling in each of the school’s systems to check whether they were cloud-based, and replaced on-premises systems when necessary. OCG then implemented single sign-on using Azure Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) to consolidate logins to the various systems. Ultimately, OCG was able to provide the Single Sign-On experience YES Prep was looking for while positioning itself to add more value in managed services over the course of the contract.

Managed Services

Using Oxford Computer Group’s Managed Services, YES Prep Public Schools has been able to rapidly deploy a Single Sign-On (SSO) solution using the Microsoft Identity stack,” said Troy Neal, Senior Director of Information Technology at YES Prep Public Schools. “OCG was able to help us scale and set up SSO using ADFS or Azure AD for all current applications. It also helped create a technical document that allows YES Prep to identify identity solutions as we continue to grow our application portfolio. Overall, we’ve been able to accomplish more and reach our IT goals faster because of OCG’s managed services.

Turning a successful engagement into a long-term partnership building on its initial success implementing YES Prep’s SSO solution, OCG has continued
to plug in with the customer via its managed service engagement, discovering new opportunities to add value to YES Prep. As just one example, OCG was able to identify a potential gap in YES Prep’s security posture and implement a solution to address it.

OCG has become a true partner with YES Prep Public Schools. They are vested in our goals and propose solutions to help us meet our mission. – Troy Neal, Senior Director of Information Technology for YES Prep Public Schools

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Is your school or district facing similar problems? Are you interested in implementing a single, scalable identity solution? Then call us for advice today.