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State of Utah

Articles and Tips: article

Liz Tanner

01 Aug 2005

The State of Utah leverages Novell solutions to consolidate state agencies and eliminate IT budget deficit

Located in the western United States, the State of Utah provides government services to more than 2.5 million citizens. The State has nearly 22,000 employees across more than 22 departments and agencies. A leader in eGovernment, the State provides more than 250 interactive services online.


The State of Utah has embarked on an ambitious plan to centralize IT management of all its state agencies. A critical part of this consolidation is the creation of a global directory to automate user management. In the past, IT personnel had time-consuming manual processes to provision new users and provide them access to the right applications to do their jobs.

With nearly 1,000 different applications, automating desktop management for 22,000 desktops is also critical. Each agency had been managing its own desktops, creating inconsistencies across departments that made it difficult at times to share information.

Creating more eGovernment services requires a flexible, reliable and cost-effective infrastructure. Facing rising software costs with proprietary systems, the State wanted to move toward open platforms to reduce costs and take advantage of new development opportunities.

Novell solution

The State of Utah has been using Novell solutions for many years to run a reliable and productive state government. Nearly 100 percent of State agencies run on NetWare, many of which are planning a move to Open Enterprise Server. The State has also standardized on Novell GroupWise for consistent and secure collaboration.

Novell eDirectory is the backbone of the State's infrastructure, providing a solid identity services foundation. Novell ZENworks integrates with eDirectory to automate desktop management, based on identity.

"Novell gives us an extremely stable and secure environment," said Ken March, manager of Network and Client Services for the State of Utah. "Despite the complexity of our solution, Novell products work almost flawlessly. We can't imagine running an organization of our size without a global directory, automated resource management and open systems."

Streamlining Identity Management

For a consolidated authentication source, the State created a Utah Master Directory using Novell eDirectory and Novell Identity Manager to centrally store and manage the digital identities of its 22,000 employees.

Novell Identity Manager automatically synchronizes user identity information across multiple applications to maintain a single source of accurate user data. The State integrated the Utah Master Directory with its Sybase HR system to help automate user management. Now when new employees join the organization, they automatically get a network account and access to the applications they need, based on their roles and responsibilities.

In addition to automating the creation of new users, the State can also immediately revoke network access when users leave the organization to safeguard security. Having a global directory with synchronized user information ensures that when employees leave, the State can revoke access rights for multiple applications at once.

"We've looked at other directories, but find that Novell eDirectory is always a few steps ahead," said March. "A global directory is a remarkably efficient tool and really the binding power of our network."

Novell eDirectory is also the source of authentication for the State's employee portal. Users have single sign-on access to the portal based on their identity information stored in the Utah Master Directory. With a global directory, the State can give each employee a single user ID and password, significantly reducing the number of passwords employees need to remember.

"We're making it easier and faster for our employees to access the applications they need," said Curtis Parker, LAN administrator for the State of Utah. "A single ID and password also improves security because users no longer need to keep passwords on sticky notes hidden in their top drawers or under their keyboards."

Many of the State's applications tie into the Utah Master Directory for user authentication, reducing the amount of time application developers spend on user management. The State continues to integrate more applications and has plans to extend its identity-based portal to business partners and eventually to citizens.

Building Trust with Secure E-mail

Unlike many states, the State of Utah has a standardized e-mail solution. Novell GroupWise provides a secure messaging platform for sensitive government information, building trust among employees, businesses and citizens.

"Novell GroupWise is one of the mostused applications in our state executive branch of government," said March. "It is the vital link that holds most of our agencies together."

Two GroupWise administrators can easily manage thousands of users and nearly two million e-mail messages a day with zero downtime.

"Novell GroupWise is extremely reliable for the volume of e-mail we handle," said March. "It minimizes the amount of spam we receive and offers great protection against virus attacks. We are fortunate to be able to avoid wasting excessive IT time resolving problems."

After testing GroupWise Messenger, the State rolled it out to all of its employees to provide them with secure instant messaging capabilities. GroupWise Messenger is integrated with Novell eDirectory to protect user identities and communication.

"Trust is really built on security," said Dave Fletcher, IT Director for the State of Utah. "A single security breach would really set us back in our progress toward eGovernment. By giving us a secure platform for enterprise instant messaging, Novell GroupWise helps us to build trust with other businesses and with our citizens."

The State also implemented the BlackBerry Server for Novell GroupWise to provide secure e-mail access for a growing number of RIM BlackBerry users, including the governor's staff. These users can now access e-mail while traveling and state legislators can stay in touch during lengthy legislative sessions.

Automating Resource Management

Distributing applications to multiple agencies placed a burden on the State's small IT staff, requiring many of them to travel to multiple locations for major upgrades. The State selected Novell ZENworks to automate desktop management across agencies.

"One of the main reasons we selected ZENworks was the integration with our identity management strategy," said March. "Having identity-based management is invaluable for both application delivery and accurate asset management."

The State's IT staff can now distribute new applications, upgrades or anti-virus updates in minutes?rather than weeks?and without the need to travel to individual sites or work stations. Providing consistent desktops has improved the ability of employees to collaborate and share documents.

"Novell ZENworks extends the value of our IT and helpdesk staff," said Fletcher. "Our network and desktop personnel no longer have to travel each time we need to make an upgrade. We're a 24/7 organization and many of our staff can manage systems remotely from home if needed."

With the remote control features of ZENworks, the helpdesk staff can troubleshoot workstations without leaving their desks, providing users with significantly faster service. The IT staff also uses the policy management features of ZENworks to standardize desktops and prevent users from disrupting their machines.

Streamlined inventory is a big part of the State's consolidation plan. The automated inventory management features of ZENworks have replaced time-consuming manual processes where data was stored in spreadsheets. The State uses ZENworks to efficiently manage an enormous number of assets and create up-to-date reports in minutes.

"Now that we have ZENworks, we wonder how we ever lived without it," said Fletcher. "It's a big advantage for us during the consolidation and is helping us make a smooth transition."

Leveraging Linux

The State of Utah runs both NetWare 6.5 and SUSE LINUX Enterprise Server and will move some of its servers to Open Enterprise Server in the future. Moving to Linux has helped reduce the costs of proprietary systems, while opening up new opportunities for strategic open source development.

"We like the openness of Linux, as well as its stability," said Fletcher. "Linux has positioned us to move forward in an open way and to be able to share solutions that we develop with other states."

The State is moving some of its mainframe Oracle databases to Intel-based servers running SUSE LINUX Enterprise Server and is using MySQL to create new systems. The State also selected an open source project management tool and implemented it in just a few days.

"The successful implementation of an open source system was a quick win for us," said Fletcher. "It really got our system administrators excited about using open source for other applications and services."

The State can set up new Linux servers for a fraction of the cost of proprietary systems. A basic Linux server costs approximately $2,500, the same price the State used to pay for a desktop PC. The State is also evaluating Novell Linux Desktop for use in some of its agencies.

"Linux is very configurable and can run just about anything," said Parker. "A Linux server is also extremely efficient. We would need a lot more Microsoft Windows servers to do what one Linux server can do."


In the past year, the IT Services department of the State of Utah has moved from a deficit of $3.5 million to a surplus of $700,000. Providing a flexible and reliable IT infrastructure has been a key part of the transformation, and has also boosted user satisfaction and confidence.

"There is no way we could run a large organization and continue to provide eGoverment services without a solid and reliable infrastructure," said Fletcher. "Our Novell solutions are an integral part of our ability to communicate effectively and better serve our citizens."

Using Novell eDirectory and Novell Identity Manager to create the Utah Master Directory has streamlined identity management and provided the foundation for the State's consolidation effort. As a result, the State has reduced user administration by 30 percent and reduced the number of user passwords by 50 percent.

Despite a reduction in IT personnel, the State can provide more services with fewer staff. Novell ZENworks has increased automation, reduced travel time and allowed the State to deliver more services in the past year than ever before. The help desk staff is also receiving the highest customer service ratings since the introduction of automated user surveys.

"We've become a more efficient IT organization and have yet to replace the staff we have lost through normal attrition," said March. "Tools such as ZENworks and GroupWise require little administration and help us make the most of our time."

Moving some of its systems to Linux has helped the State increase reliability and reduce hardware costs by 50 percent. An open platform also gives the State a broader range of development options.

"Novell has always been an extremely supportive business partner," said Fletcher. "Their products make our jobs much easier and the support team has a genuine interest in helping us succeed. Novell has worked hard to help us achieve some very strategic objectives."



  • Create a global directory as the foundation for statewide identity management

  • Standardize desktops and consolidate IT management across all state agencies

  • Leverage Linux to increase flexibility and reduce costs


  • Operating systems: NetWare, SUSE LINUX Enterprise Server

  • Identity and access management: Novell eDirectory, Novell Identity Manager

  • Resource management: Novell ZENworks

  • Collaboration: Novell GroupWise, Novell GroupWise Messenger


  • A flexible and reliable infrastructure helps eliminate IT budget deficit of $3.5 million

  • Statewide identity management reduces user administration time by 30 percent

  • Automated desktop management significantly reduces travel time and streamlines agency consolidation

  • Adding Linux servers helps reduce hardware costs by 50 percent

* Originally published in Novell Connection Magazine


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