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Identity and Access Management: Additional Background

The Northwestern University NetID management system was launched in 1993 to support electronic mail services. This marked the beginning of our IAM system as we have come to know it. Over the past twenty years, the majority of the electronic services within the University have adopted the NetID as their user identifier and authentication credential. This level of adoption has clearly benefited the University’s ability to introduce new services in a relatively coordinated fashion.

During this time, the University’s IAM infrastructure has grown organically without ever having benefitted from a systematic review of its functionality or how it aligns with the business needs of Northwestern.

A cross-organizational working group was formed in the fall of 2012 to compile a broad sampling of the IAM needs across the Northwestern community.  The findings of this effort support the position that a reliance on episodic, just-in-time responses to changing circumstances has left the IAM system undervalued, making it insufficient for the University’s current and future needs.

Our IAM system is perhaps our most valuable enterprise system, enabling all of our online services, and it needs to be restructured and repositioned. 

To achieve these goals, the entire IT@NU community will need to be involved, including Northwestern IT, distributed IT units, enterprise development teams, and business application owners. The scope of the technological work should not be underestimated, but these technological changes cannot happen in a vacuum. New business rules and standard processes will have to be envisioned, refined, and adopted in order for the new technology to be selected, implemented, and work effectively.

Last Updated: 21 February 2017

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