Revisiting Cloud Solutions: Enboard Launches New & Improved SSO Portal

Note: This is an updated version to a blog entry I wrote awhile back.



As the identity management and data security needs of school districts continue to evolve, it’s important to employ tools that can keep pace. Enboard is an industry veteran whose expertise in paralleling and even predicting the direction EdTech growth sets them apart from the competition. Enboard has been implemented by over 35 school districts in Texas to date and their presence continues grow across the country.

Since reviewing the platform in 2016, Enboard has continued to improve upon their suite of products, which include account provisioning, resource rostering, identity authentication, and user analytics. The latest version of their Single Sign-On (SSO) portal takes the ease of access Enboard is well-known for and expands on it for more granular administrative control, improved navigation, and greater overall extensibility.

Backstory

At a 2016 state-wide conference, I was scheduled to present about the challenges associated with managing user accounts. During that week I had the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Enboard’s CTO, Michael Knight, to learn about what the platform had to offer. In the months before, I had published several posts about the difficulties of identity and resource management, as well as an overview of other IAM solutions:
  1. The Texas Digital Textbook Data NightmareIn this engaging comprehensive primer, featuring quotes from Texas school districts, Miguel explores the problem and solutions: available. This is a great intro for those struggling with vague notions of what is happening (or not) in regards to data integration.
  2. Data-Driven School Districts Experience Growing PainsIn this "pictures of the problem"-rich article, Miguel shares his journey to find a solution, including job descriptions and expectations.
  3. To the Rescue - @Clever in Texas Schools?Want to use Clever to in place of or to complement your existing user provisioning solution? Read this article to get answers to key questions!
  4. MyNotes: ClassLink for RosteringMy notes on ClassLink's connection to OneRoster.org, a presentation shared at the TCEASysAdmin.
My conversation with Michael lasted about and hour and a half and a recording can be found in my original review of Enboard:



I was thoroughly impressed by Enboard’s solution to the IAM problems I had seen so many districts struggle with. Some key features that differentiate Enboard from its competitors include:
  • Pricing follows a subscription model dependent on number of total users and hosting options, rather than number of rostered resources.
  • Enboard deployment comes standard with 25 resources of the customer’s choosing rostered/provisioned to the district’s SSO portal. With each subsequent year, the 10 more resources can be added. After completing training, districts can deploy as many applications on their own as they wish at no additional cost.
  • A built-in confidence engine allows for multi-factor and multi-step login methods to be utilized for different user groups depending on their security needs. For example, the system can be configured to require QR code badges and 2-digit for young elementary students to login, while older students might be required to enter a specific password and Google Authenticator code.
  • All user data is kept within the district’s environment to ensure privacy and security.

New SSO Portal Features

Previously, Enboard’s SSO portal was housed within Microsoft’s SharePoint, which presented some constraints on implementation. However, the newly released Version 5 is an independent web platform compatible with all browsers and mobile devices. Version 5 is more responsive than ever and capable of handling large volumes of traffic, while requiring fewer server resources than previous portal versions.

Configurable Pages & Containers: Administrators can create portal pages and containers within those pages to better organize resources for users. The SSO portal can be fully integrated with your district’s Active Directory implementation, meaning page accessibility can be dictated with the security/user groups you already use. Pages are customizable with logo banners, background images, and ADA-compliant color schemes.

Custom User Links: Portal users can create their own shortcuts to pages outside of the portal for quick, centralized access to those resources.

Favorites: Users can curate their favorite resources and custom links in a container for easy access.
Location Awareness: This feature supplies teachers with information about where users are accessing resources. This is important for ensuring students are using the applications and textbooks they need to complete homework after hours. The weather widget on the portal home page provides users with the time, date, and weather specific to their location.

Multi-Factor & Multi-Step Authentication Methods: The SSO platform utilizes a confidence engine for multi-factor and multi-step authentication on a per application level, based on security group, location, or other user attributes. Mechanisms for login include:
  • User-created passwords
  • SMS/text message codes
  • PIN codes
  • Google Authenticator
  • Security questions
  • QR code badging
Password & Shortcut Management Capabilities: Each can manage their own login credentials for each application, removing some of the workload from teachers and recapturing valuable classroom time otherwise spent trying to recover forgotten credentials.

Event Log & Power BI Analytics: The portal’s event log records details of when users access applications, providing teachers with valuable insight into how students are using resources. Enboard also integrates with Microsoft Power BI Analytics to deliver rich data visuals.

Within-Portal Administrative Application Management: Administrators can now manage an application’s users and configuration details from inside the portal, giving them easier and more granular control.

Region 11 is extending their partnership with Enboard into 2019, which is great news for smaller districts. Region 11 offers resale and implementation of the Enboard platform at a very low cost statewide for districts under 5,000 users. They have a handy document comparing Enboard to its competitors on their support page: https://www.esc11.net/Page/7571

For more information about Enboard’ SSO portal or any of their IAM products, feel free to reach out to them at enboardinfo@encoretg.com.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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