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Secure Single Sign-on to Ellucian Products


Secure Single Sign-on to Ellucian Products

The advent of online resources that are becoming more accessible to students in higher education has spawned the need to streamline access to online systems. This is a common theme and reason why our education customers contact PortalGuard. They are looking for a solution that would allow their students to focus on learning rather than managing passwords and logins.

There are countless vendors out there that specialize in education solutions. From Learning Management Systems (LMS) to school email and everything in between, we can all agree that there are some predominant vendors that are the cornerstone of the education market.

Ellucian has been one of the usual suspects for Single Sign-on (SSO) integration, as they offer a diverse amount of software solutions for their customers. Because of this diverse catalog, finding a solution that meets all the needs of a school can be quite challenging.

To that end, I would like to share how we helped some of our customers provide Single Sign-on to some common Ellucian products.

Web Advisor SAML Single Sign-on

Ellucian Web Advisor is a SharePoint based portal utilized by students and faculty to access grades, schedules, community news, etc. In the spring semester, PortalGuard drastically improved the Web Advisor login experience for Contra Costa Community College District (CCCCD).

CCCCD originally contacted us to help address the volume of help desk calls that 65,000 students generate over the course of a year, but soon learned that PortalGuard could also help them address the multiple login scenarios that these same 65,000 students endured daily.

By federating CCCCD’s Web Advisor portal and many other education web apps with PortalGuard’s Identity Provider (IdP), CCCCD was able to provide a secure SSO login portal with the convenience of inline Self-service Password Reset.

Regarding CCCCD’s Web Advisor integration with PortalGuard, we leveraged the SAML protocol to provide Single Sign-on. SAML is an XML-based authentication protocol that passes assertions between SAML-enabled applications such as Web Advisor.

When a student or faculty member requests access to Web Advisor, PortalGuard’s IdP creates a SAML token containing the end-user’s identity assertions. Once Web Advisor validates those assertions, the student or faculty member is granted access without any further password prompts.

SAML is one of the most common of the federation protocols and is supported by many of the major education service providers. Since Web Advisor natively supports the SAML protocol, it made it a no-brainer to take the federation approach. CCCCD declared a success with the PortalGuard solution.

Banner 8 & PowerCampus Cookie-Based Single Sign-on

While Identity Federation is the ideal approach for SSO, there are some Ellucian applications that do not support industry standard protocols like SAML, CAS, or Shibboleth. In a scenario such as this, PortalGuard is able to provide educational institutions with an alternative approach to SSO.

During summer break, we helped Rockford University and New England Institute of Technology provide Cookie-Based SSO to PowerCampus and Banner 8 respectively.

Cookie-Based SSO works by using Web-based HTTP Cookies to transport user credentials from browser to server without input from the user. Existing credentials on the client machine are gathered and encrypted before being stored in the cookie and sent to the destination server. The server receives the cookie, extracts and decrypts the credentials and validates them against the internal server directory of users.

Although the integration approach is vastly different from Identity Federation, the end user experience is very much the same. Both Rockford University and NEIT were able to streamline the student and faculty login experience by eliminating the additional login prompts to PowerCampus and Banner 8 via the PortalGuard solution.

PortalGuard – Secure Single Sign-On to Ellucian

Consistently acclaimed, PortalGuard provides Single Sign-OnSelf-Service Password ResetTwo-Factor AuthenticationContextual Authentication, and over 120 other features to ensure that each institution is equipped with the CyberSecurity tool needed to face any Ellucian authentication challenge – now and in the future.









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Jason Garfagna

Author: Jason Garfagna

Jason is a Project Manager at PistolStar, Inc. in Bedford, NH. He received a degree in Marketing from Mt. Washington College and spent over eight years as a manager of sales in the customer service industry. His current position has him focusing on providing authentication solutions to companies worldwide.

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