Since 2007, faculty, staff, and graduate students at the Mason School of Business have maintained two separate accounts— a Mason-specific account, and a campus wide William & Mary account. The separate accounts provided Mason with flexibility to customize their own systems and for that purpose, it worked well. However, the technology systems used at Mason are now congruent with the technology systems used on the rest of campus so the dual accounts are no longer needed.
Maintaining dual accounts has also been a constant source of confusion for Mason users. For example, Mason account holders must use their Mason account to access some services and their W&M account to access others. Michael Murphy, W&M IT’s Director of Academic and Technology Support Services, explains that Mason users log in to their computers with their Mason account credentials, then use their W&M account credentials to access services such as Blackboard and Banner, but then switch back to their Mason account credentials in order to print. “From a user standpoint, it’s very confusing. That’s the main issue we’re trying to tackle,” he notes.
From a technical standpoint, it is also problematic. Murphy says, “Having two accounts is a duplication of resources, which means we are essentially completing the same process in two different places. And it complicates any kind of campus wide implementation of new systems.” To resolve these issues, Mason is currently undergoing a streamlining process that will combine the two account systems into one. It will free up both financial and staff resources in the long run.
W&M IT’s infrastructure team, along with the Technology Services team (an IT group located in Miller Hall, the home of the Mason School of Business) have been working on combining the two domains associated with the two accounts. By completing this process, all of the resources from the Mason domain will be moved into the Campus (aka W&M) domain, which will ultimately simplify how Mason users access both Mason and W&M resources. Any resources that were attached to a Mason user’s account, such as printers, email, and file shares, will now be attached to the same user’s main campus account.
To accomplish this project, the team had to match up each person’s Mason account with their W&M account. Once that was completed, the team also had to ensure that the Mason permissions matched the new permissions of resources that were moved to each user’s W&M account. Murphy says, “It was a challenging process. Things didn’t always match between the two systems. We had to reconcile the differences, which takes a lot of work.”
Currently, computers are being moved over to the main campus domain. To start the migration, individual faculty and staff computers are moving one-by-one from the Mason domain to the campus domain. The Technology Services team has provided an instruction card for Mason users to reference once their computers are moved.
There have been a few issues with the start of the process that have since been resolved. Dana Headden, building operations coordinator, explains that “one of the bugs with the migration was difficulty accessing various internal storage drives. However, this is no longer an issue. Overall, the process has gone smoothly.”
Although this streamlining process is hardly visible outside of the Mason School of Business, it has had a big impact inside the school. “People outside of Mason don’t even know we are going through this,” continues Headden, “It really is a big change for us.”When finished, the single account system will eliminate the confusion that comes with having two separate accounts. The Mason domain is set to retire in 2017, but the address of mason.wm.edu will still remain, which means that business faculty and staff will still keep their @mason.wm.edu email address. In addition, the website http://mason.wm.edu will still be kept intact.