LDAP Authentication Configuration Appendix

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1 1 Overview LDAP Authentication Configuration Appendix Blackboard s authentication technology is considered a focal point in the company s ability to provide true enterprise software. Natively, the Blackboard Academic Suite is compatible with the most popular authentication protocols, such as LDAP ( Lightweight Directory Access Protocol ) and Kerberos, as well as some proprietary solutions including Web Server Delegation and Active Directory. Additionally, many institutions have implemented custom authentication schemas and Blackboard s authentication framework was designed to be flexible enough to meet such unique demands. Blackboard Consulting provides invaluable experience designing and documenting authentication schemas that integrate Blackboard into existing environments. Blackboard Consulting has developed a straightforward methodology that begins with technical requirements, identifies system workflow, and ultimately implements a dependable authentication solution. 2 Objectives Integrate current institutional authentication technologies with the Blackboard Academic Suite to position the institution for future growth and scalability. More specifically, LDAP Authentication Configuration Solutions are expected to provide the following: A secure method of authentication Blackboard users by utilizing the LDAP protocol Leverage existing investments in customers LDAP-compliant directories by including Blackboard in the list of applications using this service for authentication credentials Improve authentication process for end users, by reducing the number of usernames and passwords needed to access secure systems. Reduce support center call volume, by including LDAP s simple change password feature as part of the authentication process Enforce institutional security protocols by configuring Blackboard to either fallback to other LDAP systems or its own database, or not, for authentication purposes. 2.1 LDAP Authentication Configuration Approach Through years of experience in the software industry, Blackboard consultants have utilized industry-wide software development practices that ensure efficiency, clear deliverables, and greater client satisfaction. Our development methodology focuses on iterative development cycles that minimize costs due to less rework, installation packages to simplify deployments, and compliance with universally accepted coding standards. Throughout this development lifecycle, Blackboard Consulting maintains the high quality of project responsibility and client involvement. The approach can be distinguished by the following phases: Process Definition Solution Development Integration Certification Production Preparation Maintenance 2.2 Benefits Blackboard expects its approach to provide several critical benefits. LDAP Authentication Configuration Solutions create the opportunity for process improvement, removing the need for clients to invest in 2005 Page 1 of 8

2 additional hardware and/or software technologies, and simplifies the deployment process because of their familiarity with the existing security/authentication technology. Examples of our technological benefits include: Increased acceptance due to prior deployments of the existing authentication software. Reducing the likelihood of security breaches due to mitigating the need for data cleanup or migration from the existing authentication system to a new architecture. Develop an interest in product and process evolution. Create a paradigm of what if thinking, including: o o What if we were able to channel all users, local and distance, through this gateway into our community? What if we can implement this technology across all systems, possibly through a single gateway and evolve this into a Single Sign-On implementation? 2.3 Qualifications Blackboard Consulting is 120 people strong across the world. In fact, Blackboard Consulting has the ability to truly work around the clock to support your elearning rollout if time is of an essence. As Blackboard Consulting has been implementing and integrating clients around the world since 1998, several key trends have emerged: 1. Blackboard customers that utilized LDAP Authentication Configuration express gratitude in our ability to adapt to local or antiquated technologies. 2. Additional programs emerge as a result based upon What If? thinking due to the Authentication solution being a part of the initial Systems Integration solution offering. Many institutions then realize the potential for the Blackboard Academic Suite to revolutionize the elearning experience moving forward. 3. The Blackboard Academic Suite customers enjoy the ease of implementation and deployment by our ability to create and deliver Installation Packages, which also assists in future upgrades and version releases of the Blackboard solution Page 2 of 8

3 3 Conceptual Custom Authentication Work Flow 2005 Page 3 of 8

4 The implementation plan below describes the activities that the Blackboard Consulting Team and Client project team will participate in to complete the proposed solution. Activities performed have a specific outcome that align with the project for production purposes while also providing knowledge transfer for client self sufficiency. 4 Implementation Plan The following activities describe the services engagement in which your organization and the assigned Blackboard team will participate. 4.1 Project Preparation and Initiation Blackboard Consulting team members assigned to your organization s engagement: o Familiarization with your technical and process-based requirements, including the final Statement of Work and knowledge transfer from the Blackboard Sales team o Setup of client centralized communication plan for tracking project activities, progress, issues, and risk o Preparation of materials for the project kick off conference call Conference call kick off with the client team conducted by Blackboard Consulting: o Introduction of Blackboard and your team members o Review scope of the engagement as defined in the Statement of Work o Review the project plan at a high level o Describe the various client participants required for each stage of the project engagement, including technical stakeholders and end-users o Determine the project schedule, including scheduling of the onsite sessions After the kick off call, the Blackboard Consulting team prepares and delivers to the client a detailed agenda and supporting documentation for the project s onsite activities. 4.2 Project Management Throughout the engagement, the Blackboard Project Manager will provide expert management of all Blackboard performed activities. He/she will: - Act as the primary point of contact between the client project manager and the Blackboard team for all project-related topics - Define, document and update comprehensive project plans and project schedules - Track and report on progress against the project schedule - Coordinate activities such as testing, deployment, follow-up, and documentation with the client-side project manager - Coordinate team meetings and provide regular updates via conference calls for both Blackboard and client constituents. - Provide regular status reports and bi-monthly budget tracking and project plan updates Page 4 of 8

5 - Track and report on any project issues - Summarize and coordinate project planning across all activities and Blackboard groups Consulting, Training, ASP, Quality Assurance, and Product Development. 4.3 Authentication Process Definition Workshops led by Blackboard Consulting at the client s site: o Identification, diagramming, and review of the conceptual solution, designed to isolate specific business processes, local technologies, and workflow rules. Diagram technical navigation patterns specific to LDAP based authentication Determine specifications necessary to comply with central authentication server Construct contingency plans to account for failed or redirected authentication paths and identify a fallback mechanism to the Blackboard default user database o Technical Training specific to the custom authentication developed by Blackboard Consulting 4.4 Development and Implementation Using the results of the requirements and process workshop, Blackboard consultants define, document and perform the necessary development and configuration activities. Develop the required LDAP based authentication utilities. o Identify existing technologies, capabilities, and project end results of the development lifecycle. What is the central authentication technology? What is the access point for the user to authenticate into Blackboard? What are the GUI and Market Branding specifications desired by the client? o Develop a compatible design with existing client systems Can we utilize an multiple directory trees? Which LDAP based platform will the central authentication be tailored towards? How do we account for scalability and future growth in user base? o Determine a logical path dependant on success/failure within the LDAP Authentication If the user cannot authenticate into the Central Authentication Server via the Blackboard LDAP Authentication, is there a contingency such as the Blackboard database? How do we recognize a valid authentication token following login? What Blackboard site is the user directed to following a successful or unsuccessful login? How is this implemented within the Learning System, Community System, Content System, a combination of systems, or the enterprise Academic Suite? How are session logouts managed and what is delivered to the Authentication Server? 2005 Page 5 of 8

6 o Deployment of our solution with an installation package including documented management processes for the solution Is there a support policy already existing at the institution? Who will be responsible for management of the module and what documentation is necessary to assist? Provisions for best practice hands-on training for future usage without Blackboard Consulting assistance Initialization of Integration and Customization Maintenance to support upgrades or version releases 4.5 QA and Functional Testing The Blackboard Consulting team will: Utilize proven test plans for the activities described in the Development and Implementation section above. Coordinate test scripts with the client team Leverage functional testing use cases and storyboards. Execute the steps in the test plan with client system administrators in the client test environment in accordance with the project plan. Provide consulting support for system tests conducted by the client team prior to launch, covering: Best practices for management of the solution pointing forward Prior experience developing the solution with similar systems and objectives Project Documentation Blackboard Consulting will: Develop and deliver technical documentation and update procedures for each item described in the Development and Implementation section above. Develop and deliver the Project Final Report at the conclusion of the project. This report documents the deployed system 4.6 Project Closure At the conclusion of the project, Blackboard will furnish final documentation to the customer in the form of a project control binder. The activities that Blackboard Consulting will perform to accomplish this are: Business process requirements as expressed during the scope and requirements definition System configuration documentation as affected by the Custom Authentication Solution Network and Security Administrator Certification results reference material Production launch schedule Detailed production launch steps Project Final Report The documentation will include all materials developed throughout the project as well as suggested next steps for your organization Page 6 of 8

7 The schedule below reflects the necessary timelines required to fulfill the appropriate project milestones. Key to staying on schedule is making sure we have the correct client participants. Our objective is to follow the project schedule as closely as possible providing there are no significant scheduling challenges or changes in project scope. 5 Schedule During the term of the project the Blackboard project team will guide the client team through a series of exercises focused on defining, designing and implementing a robust authentication solution specific to your institutions application. The engagement begins with a workshop that outlines the process and captures applicable business rules for LDAP based central authentication, including the stakeholders of affected systems. Next, the Blackboard consultants are available to design and develop the necessary authentication components. Finally, they prepare the client team for self sufficiency. 5.1 Project Timeline [Figure1. Solution Project Plan - rough timeline] The project is estimated upon assumption of scope. As with any development lifecycle, it is prudent to estimate a delivery upon measurement of several factors including the resource(s) assigned, complexity of the solution, number of systems affected, usage of the Blackboard Academic Suite, and comprehensiveness of the testing phases. A projected activity flow is diagrammed above. The lifecycle consists of two distinct phases including an initial kickoff call focused on gathering requirements and technical specifications by interviewing network and security administrators. The end product of this will be a technical design subject to review, revision, and acceptance by the client team. The second phase will be a longer period of time dedicated to the development of the approved solution, completed with a testing and deployment phase. As with any estimate, this is based upon clear, static specifications and an uninterrupted period of development with ready assistance from the client security team Page 7 of 8

8 5.2 Scheduling Requirements Blackboard Consulting s development methodology assumes a certain level of effort from the customer team. For example, those individuals with direct responsibility for the existing tools and processes must be committed during the development lifecycle. Blackboard has found that this participation is necessary to prepare customers for the ongoing demands of an integrated Blackboard system. Please note: Blackboard consulting resources are available on a first come first served basis and will be assigned immediately after agreement on proposed work and signature of a Statement of Work 5.3 Client Participants Project Task Roles Required Executive Sponsor System Administrator Process Definition Project Manager Network Administrator IT Representative Academic Computing Network Administrator Solution Implementation Project Manager Security Manager Bb Project Manager Blackboard AS Administrator Certification Workshop Bb Integration Manager System, Network, and/or Security Administrator Production Preparation Client Project Manager Network Administrator Bb Project Manager Security Manager System-level Administrator 6 Conclusion and Blackboard Consulting appreciate your interest in working with our skilled team of technology experts. We believe the aforementioned proposal and estimate will meet the needs of the client by providing the necessary insight and training towards developing systems integration between the Blackboard Academic Suite and your existing systems Page 8 of 8

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