• United States

Taking baby steps toward provisioning

Jul 02, 20033 mins
Access ControlEnterprise Applications

* Small steps to reap big benefits

Last issue, I introduced Courion’s User Provisioning Savings Calculator as a (free) tool that you could use to help get your provisioning project moving. While talking to Courion CEO Chris Zannetos and marketing Vice President Tom Rose about the calculator, I also discovered their secret for helping you get a provisioning project up and running (while using their products, of course).

I referred to it last issue as “baby steps”, but you can envision it as taking a big project (provisioning) and breaking it down into smaller, more quickly doable projects. Rather than take a year or two to get the big project going while everyone loses focus and the budget (and your deadlines) keeps slipping, Courion suggests breaking it down into “mini projects” each of which take a few months to implement. This way, you’d get people focused on the next goal and keep your budget (and deadlines) on an even keel.

I first mentioned this type of approach in a newsletter headlined “The secret to success” almost two years ago ( The “secret” is to launch a small, easy project which nevertheless is high profile (i.e., a lot of people see and use it) and is easy to demonstrate as either a money-maker or a cost reducer. In that newsletter I suggested a “white pages” type application. Courion’s Zannetos suggests a self-service password-reset application as the first step towards getting a full provisioning service installed.

Courion started in the arcane and obtuse world of x.500 directories for x.400 mail systems. Address book lookups and password recovery were the company’s bread-and-butter. One day it woke up to discover that it was at the heart of the identity management revolution. Courion knew that automation of repetitive manual activities (i.e., looking up addresses or provisioning accounts) was a cost saver but it also realized that self-service could be a cost saver and a productivity enhancer.

The number of help desk personnel could be reduced and the productivity of those left could be raised by eliminating the need to reset passwords for users who forget them. Thus was born PasswordCourier, a self-service password reset and synchronization solution. Courion launched this tool in 1996, probably the first company to do so.

Since then it has added other tools – certificate management, profile management and full blown provisioning – to create an identity management suite.

You can consider the identity management suite as a camel, and PasswordCourier as its nose. Getting the camel into your corporate tent is difficult, but getting the nose under the tent is relatively easy. And where the nose goes the rest of the camel will follow.