Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: Saint Mary's University Student Recruitment Program
Year Submitted 2004
Name of Institution Saint Mary's University
Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) <br /> <br /> <br /> <br /> Monica Wood<br /> <br /> <br /> <br />
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Director, Student Recruitment
Telephone: 902 420-5070
Email Address: Email hidden; Javascript is required.

The implementation projects included system managers from central ITS and departments or colleges across campus, help desk staff, college based IT staff, and administrative application personnel. Colleges and departments using SSAM include: Commerce, Medicine, Pharmacy & Nutrition, Nursing, Dentistry, Arts & Science, Computer Science, Education, Kinesiology, Engineering, the Financial Services Division, Student and Enrolment Services, University Advancement, the Learning Commons facilities and ITS.

Criteria Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.

SSAM is built to allow services and eligibility criteria to be defined with little or no programming effort. Many different types of services can be managed: authentication services, group membership, web page access, inclusion in feed files, etc. SSAM has a 100% web based user interface and is designed to be in operation 24x7. Students and employees have access to personal web pages that allow changing passwords from any supported browser platform. For continued relevance in our environment, SSAM will evolve to be able to provision new services in a secure manner. SSAM was developed as an integration tool, so energy was put into modularizing the components that provide interfaces to other systems:


The parts of SSAM that access remote databases are modularized and provide access to a variety of source databases; for example, our current HR system is a Peoplesoft implementation using an Oracle database and our current Student Information System is custom built with an OracleRdb database for record storage.


To allow SSAM to manage services on remote systems, the remote systems interfaces are programmed to accept messages defined by API's. Once the interface is programmed, rules are defined in SSAMs rule engine to provide eligibility for the new service to specified user groups (no additional programming needed). Types of servers managed include; Sun Solaris, Linux, Windows 2000 active directory, Compaq True 64, WebCT, Luminis Platform 3.


SSAM is built using a robust architecture (see diagram) that allows it to automatically recover from most transient errors. In specific cases, parts of SSAM can be shutdown for upgrades without affecting the majority of users.

Quality Impact

Improved Security: All network traffic is encrypted, improving our security in transmitting personal information.

Improved Help Services: Quicker and easier diagnosis of computer account related problems. User self help has improved. Web base front end (user interface) allows use from any computer, anywhere in the world, without needing to install any special software. People providing support do not need to know as much about the underlying systems (on unix, the command is X, on W2K the command is Y, etc.).

Increased Number of IT Services managed by fewer technical staff: The Student Computing environment has undergone a consolidation and revolution in provisioning of student accounts. For example, no line-ups on first days of classes, shared services across the university.

Productivity Impact

The initial implementation took 12 elapsed months and approximately 5 person years of effort. With the 1st release, the amount of time a person waited for his or her computer accounts to be created has been reduced from 2+ business days to a few minutes (fewer than 10 in most cases). People can get support from their own college support staff (no longer a need to travel to the Arts building, where the ITS help desk is located, to get assistance for things such as a password reset). People affiliated with the University can reset their own passwords, in a synchronized way, on multiple servers, managed by multiple units (de-centralized environment) through one interface, for as many SSAM managed servers as they wish.

The ITS Help Desk was able to permanently redirect 2 FTE support away from the task of account creation; this is 2 of 9 base budget FTE! Student computing facility and ITS systems managers no longer manually create accounts on servers managed by SSAM. In both cases the redirected staff effort provided capacity for high priority project work.


Universities and other higher education facilities face the same problems: more users, more services and fewer resources with which to provide an increasing number of IT services. In response, university consortiums are forming to allow higher education groups to work together with vendors to develop common tools and systems architecture that will be flexible enough to meet growing service needs. The architectural underpinnings are referred to as middleware and enterprise directories. At a the recent EduCause sponsored Campus Architecture and Middleware Planning (CAMP) conference, the descriptions given for the "prescribed" middleware and Enterprise Directory Architecture look remarkably like what the University of Saskatchewan implemented and has had running for the past 2-3 years. Included in the documentation package is a diagram provided from the CAMP conference, and one labeled to show how SSAM performs some of the functions described.