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Re: [grouper-users] Newcastle University Grouper Update

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  • From: Tom Barton <>
  • To:
  • Subject: Re: [grouper-users] Newcastle University Grouper Update
  • Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2012 10:51:12 -0600

Thanks for that update, Richie. I'm really glad to hear how Newcastle continues to increase its return on investment in a distributed access management approach.

Happy Holidays everyone!

On 12/21/2012 9:28 AM, Richard James wrote:
Hi All,

It's been a while since we posted on the list, so we thought it would be a
good idea as the year comes to a close to share some of the work that we have
been doing with Grouper at Newcastle University this year.

One of the main developments has been provisioning of groups from Grouper
into our Active Directory. Up until the start of this year, we only
provisioned a select number of groups to the AD on a case by case basis. In
April the decision was made to provision all groups that reside in our
Application stem within Grouper into the AD. There were a number of reasons
for doing this, first of all to improve the resilience of Shibboleth querying
group memberships from Grouper (previously Shibboleth queried the Grouper
database directly). The second reason was to extend the use of groups past
controlling just web resources, so now a group could be setup which
controlled access to a wiki, blog, filestore and so on.

We now provision over 6000 groups into the AD, made up of over 150,000
memberships and these numbers are continually increasing as new use cases are

One of the main projects this year at the University has been the
restructuring of the University's filestore service and how access to the
filestores is controlled. Previously administration for filestores involved
administrators manually updating access groups membership lists, which often
meant that as staff moved departments on indeed left, their access was not
updated. With the use of Grouper this has now changed, access to the
filestores is now based on departmental Grouper groups, with membership of
these groups being automated based on the University's corporate data. This
means as staff join/leave or move around the University they are
automatically granted the correct access to filestores, dramatically
decreasing the amount of administration required. The delegation of
administration for these groups has now been passed on to the University's IT
service desk, desktop support teams and in some instances individuals outside
of the IT department through the use of the Grouper lite UI. This allows the
end users to take control of who should have access to the resources, and
allows IT resources to be channelled into development of new services rather
than having to worry about maintaining group memberships. Access to over 400
network shares are now managed by Grouper groups.

Another project which has incorporated the use of the Grouper is work around "hot
desking" and ensuring staff members have access to the applications they require
wherever they work. Our application support team have created over 40 groups
representing different applications such as Skype, Filezilla, with
departments/individuals assigned membership to these groups. These groups are
provisioned into the Active directory so that they can be used with the deployment of
Microsoft's App-v and RDS so that applications follow the user.

One final recent development is that Grouper is now being used to manage
access to Microsoft Dreamspark premium. Previously a manual administration
process was required to allow 700 members to access Dreamspark. Now with the
use of Grouper 14,000 users will be able to access Dreamspark with minimal

In 2013 we hope to be able to upgrade Grouper up to a more recent version
(currently we are stuck on 1.6), and with this we hope to take advantage of
PSP to allow for real time provisioning to our AD. We are also keeping a keen
eye on the development of a new Grouper UI, the wireframes that I have seen
so far look very promising.

As we do more work with Grouper next year, we'll make sure to share our

I hope that everyone has a great Christmas, and all the best for the new year!

Infrastructure Systems Administrator
ISS Systems Architecture
Newcastle University

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