U-M and OSU find common ground…off the football field

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    DePriest Dockins, U-M director of Identity and Access Management, leads a discussion with U-M and OSU colleagues. (Joel Iverson, ITS Communications)

While the famous football rivalry gets all the press, it’s easy to forget that U-M and Ohio State University are partners in a variety of ways off the field. The two schools are partnering in identity and access management (IAM) to identify short-term problems to solve together, and to develop shared future IAM approaches and solutions.

“In today’s world with security risks and other technological challenges, an IT leader must find ways for their teams to be more innovative and efficient,” said DeeAnne Lohmeyer, associate director of identity and user experience at OSU. “My hope is for our teams to reach out to one another as if they are part of the same organization as we work through the variety of IT challenges, sharing resources, striving for innovative solutions through collaboration, advancing both universities.”

IAM groups from the two universities took turns hosting sessions to learn from each other in October, and they have planned further meetings where they will begin to identify opportunities to work together to solve specific problems and address common challenges.

Examples of topics the two IAM teams are addressing include:

  • Directory services in the cloud
  • Managing groups systematically
  • Alumni identity management
  • Single sign-on 
  • Role development and management
  • Provisioning and deprovisioning
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Privileged account management
  • Social/federated logins
  • And more

“The goal is to find mutual pain points that can we tackle together,” said DePriest Dockins, U-M’s director of identity and access management. As the collaboration matures, that could mean the groups host members of each other’s staffs for “residencies,” or periods when folks from U-M or OSU would spend time working with colleagues at the other institution.

Lohmeyer commented that there is more to gain than just technical problem solving. “This professional partnership will not only advance the goals of the teams but also allow for the development of the individual team members,” she said. “As a leader, I am personally looking forward to spending time building relationships with U-M IT leaders so we can share strategy and vision not only for our universities, but also for the BTAA (Big Ten Academic Alliance).”

While this year’s outcome for the famous football rivalry remains to be seen, it is already clear that IAM staff are seeing the benefits of collaboration. So whether you are from “that school down south,” or “that school up north,” this is one meeting of U-M and OSU that will produce only winners.