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Power firm aims for savings with password management software for 10,000 UK staff

Bill Goodwin
E.ON UK, the parent company of Powergen, is aiming to save on helpdesk and administration costs by rolling out an identity access system to manage passwords for 10,000 employees across the UK.

The utility company plans to roll out the management system, based on a Siemens Communications' Hipath DirX directory server, by the summer. This will pave the way for giving employees single sign-on access to company applications.

The project, which will provide E.ON with a central register of employees and the systems they need to access, will allow the firm to make significant savings on helpdesk and password management costs, said John Middleditch, corporate applications strategy manager at E.ON.

"We are looking to reduce the amount of effort helpdesks spend doing password resets. We hope to reduce the effort we spend on starters, leavers and joiners, and improve the accuracy of the information we hold," he said.

It is common for employees to have three or four passwords, said Middleditch. But with password resets costing an estimated £55 each, the costs incurred when employees forget their passwords can quickly mount up. "People come back after a weekend or the Christmas holidays and we get a big spike of calls to the helpdesk," he said.

The system will also streamline the process for issuing passwords to new employees and removing passwords for those that leave.

"Streamlining the starters, movers and leavers process will not only deliver savings but will reduce the number of people involved in the process. At the moment it is spread among human resources, local management and the helpdesk. By streamlining that, we hope to reduce the number of people involved," said Middleditch.

By creating a central register of staff, the IT network will be better protected against unauthorised access, allowing any user accounts that do not match the central list to be automatically deleted or disabled.

The system could also allow E.ON to reduce software licensing costs by helping it keep closer control over the applications that employees have access to. It will also improve the accuracy of internal staff databases and telephone directories.

E.ON plans to roll out the system, which runs on Microsoft Windows Server 2003 on IBM xSeries hardware, for password provisioning by the summer. Phase 2, of the project, which is still at the planning stage, will mean moving E.ON's applications, which run on Microsoft and Unix systems, over to single sign-on.

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