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Leicester City Council picks Microsoft and Novell for support

Leicester City Council is the first public sector organisation to sign-up for the joint Microsoft/Novell support contract to support its Windows and open source infrastructure.

The contract will help the council prepare for a 6,500-user single sign-on and identity-management project, due to commence in April, which is expected to reduce up to 30% on account-related IT helpdesk calls.

The system will avoid the need for staff to remember several passwords and will enable them to change their passwords themselves. The council expects to save up to 30% in IT helpdesk costs by the time the project is completed in 2010.

The council plans to work with Microsoft and Novell to ensure its mixed IT environment, comprising Microsoft Windows, Novell NetWare 6.5 and Novell SuSE Linux, can support the single sign-on strategy.

The council's IT department, formed from the merger of three separate departments manages a complex infrastructure comprising three Microsoft Active Directories and a Novell eDirectory, which complicates password management. Some council applications such as Oracle and AS/400 provide their own authentication, further complicating password management. "Separate user accounts and passwords for disparate systems are frustrating users," said Ian Abell, head of technology services at Leicester City Council.

Abell plans to simplify the council's directory services using a meta directory product. This is designed to sit above the three Active Directories and eDirectory, and manages user authentication in one place, to simplify logging in.

Such software will enable the council provide users with a single log-in. Abell said the system will also enable the IT department to provide role-based provisioning, where the IT systems a staff member has access to is based on their job role, and is controlled using the council's directory services.

Leicester City Council is the first UK local authority to sign up to Microsoft and Novell's joint support contract for Linux and Windows Interoperability. The year-old technical and support agreement between the two rivals is designed to make it easier for users to run a mixed IT environment comprising Windows and Linux servers.


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