Executive Summary: What started as a temporary shift to remote learning has turned into a permanent hybrid education model. To keep students, teachers, and faculty on track, educational institutions have rushed to adopt robust unified communications (UC) platforms – saddling IT teams with an onslaught of manual MACD tasks. Here’s how automated UC provisioning can help.

When the pandemic first hit, schools at all levels quickly suspended in-person classes and moved to a remote education environment, hoping the change would be temporary. Three years after the pandemic, that temporary change has evolved into a permanent hybrid education model. One that many students and faculty prefer for its flexibility. The movement has forced educational institutions to increase investment in complex UC platforms in the hopes of creating a permanent hybrid education experience that’s engaging and effective for learners and teachers alike. The downside, as always, is the added work that comes with it – the manual provisioning of users. Universities and education institutions need to be able to do it faster and more accurately without tying down their IT team. They need automation.

The Situation – Education is Changing Quickly

Today, education is no longer about where one learns. It’s only about what one learns. With flexible UC platforms like Cisco Collaboration, Webex or Microsoft Teams, institutions at all levels can create hybrid learning experiences that enable students and teachers to collaborate as a class or in small groups with seamless communication capabilities. All of this means hybrid education models are here to stay, which creates some challenges for IT teams.

The Challenge for IT Teams – Provisioning Users Accurately in Complex Environments

Educational institutions, especially at the university level, are often large, multi-cluster environments that require a consistent provisioning approach. Done manually, this work is time-consuming and makes it harder for IT teams to work on more strategic projects and initiatives. On top of that, onsite staff usually has very little Cisco UC experience. Even though it’s been a few years since the start of the pandemic, UC investments are still relatively new for education IT teams. They need help and platform expertise. Then there is the looming threat of errors bringing down the entire UC system. Because of it, many institutions want a solution that lets IT teams do moves, adds, changes and deletes (MACDs) outside of CUCM or Webex. At the very least, they want the ability to move such tasks securely to a HelpDesk.

Solution – Automated UC Provisioning for Education

Automated UC provisioning solutions like Akkadian Provisioning Manager make provisioning UC applications easier and less time-consuming for IT staff, and reduce the time it takes to provision a user to just seconds. Provisioning Manager allows your team to work from a single pane of glass outside of the UC apps and make relevant MACD changes without fear of disrupting or even bringing down the entire system due to a simple error. In addition, using the role-based access feature in Akkadian Provision Manager, those simple, manual tasks can be securely off-loaded to a HelpDesk – an important cost-savings that doesn’t sacrifice security. Other helpful features for education IT teams include:
  • Full-cycle, zero touch automation via integrations with Active Directory and ServiceNow
  • Real-time directory number management
  • API Triggers to extend provisioning actions outside of supported UC platforms (Cisco Collaboration, Webex and Microsoft Teams) to other important third-party applications
  • Bulk provisioning
  • Role-based access to securely off-load less complex provisioning tasks to a HelpDesk
  • Remote phone control enables altering lines on Cisco phones without the UC engineer ever leaving their desk
  • High availability for automated roll-over to maximize uptime
  • Multi-cluster support across all your CUCM clusters
  • Detailed reporting using SQL database queries to generate reports from CUCM

Expected Outcomes

Institutions and universities that use an automated provisioning solution will generate time and cost savings that lead to better collaboration across teams and a better education experience for students. It takes only hours to go from implementing Akkadian Provisioning Manager to achieving zero-touch, full-cycle provisioning across your institution’s UC environment. Once your solution is up and running, your teams can focus on strategic projects that will have a greater impact on the educational experience. IT teams and UC engineers will be happier, too. Automated provisioning allows them to do less tedious provisioning work and offload provisioning tasks to a HelpDesk while protecting student information and maintaining a secure environment.

Conclusion – Automated UC Provisioning is an Easy Choice

Investment in hybrid education is no longer just an option for educational institutions. It’s a requirement to providing a better and more inclusive education experience for learners. Automated UC provisioning can help your institution or university save time and avoid the headache of constantly provisioning students and staff with the right applications across all your clusters. This will give your IT team the bandwidth to focus on further improving your technology offerings that will play a role in the quality of your educational services. Looking for an automated provisioning solution to securely provision students and faculty in your educational institution? Get in touch with Akkadian Labs today.