Kingston University is rolling out a collaboration platform that allows researchers to establish temporary log-ins for third-parties, without intervention from IT staff.
The university, which is based in the outskirts of London, is using functionality built into Microsoft Sharepoint 2007 to get around the need to set up new user accounts. It said it was a crucial issue to overcome because the need to create accounts had been a barrier to the sharing of work between staff and the global research community.
To ensure network security, Ian McNeice, head of IS technical services at Kingston University, is using the Sharepoint platform to build collaborative team sites hosted outside the university’s firewalls, generally referred to as the “de¬militarised zone”.
These collaboration sites can be used to exchange documents over the internet. Users who are collaborating with the university access the Sharepoint system via a URL.
Armed with this link, authorised people need only provide their e-mail address as a user name to log in. They are authenticated using a Microsoft Exchange server which resides outside the university’s secured network.
The approach was devised in late 2006, when the university tied up with the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium on a project to investigate how academia could influence technology decisions in business.
McNeice plans to complete the upgrade to Sharepoint 2007 by May. He will follow it with a roll-out of Office 2007 in June to 3,000 full-time staff, 1,000 part-time staff and 22,000 students.
Kingston is using Microsoft Sharepoint 2007 with Exchange 2003, with the documents being stored in a SQL Server database which sits behind the firewall.
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