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MB Foster adds auto-magic sign-on solution

MB Foster has announced a partnership with education software provider Systemtech, a Danish company extending its single-sign-on solutions into North America with an exclusive support center and distribution deal. The EasyIQ software will be integrated for university and K-12 customers across the US and Canada. Birket Foster said Systemtech sought out MB Foster.

While the new solution operates solely in the Windows environments that are popular among higher education clients, it's a logical next step for Foster's HP 3000 enterprises. "We've been helping people integrate stuff for almost 33 years," Foster said. "This is merely an extension of our normal integration mission."

Single sign-on is a mission-critical requirement in education systems, as students and faculty need secure access across a range of applications that share data between the apps. The HP 3000 didn't offer such a range of services -- unless you count the unsecured power of Vesoft's GOD program that granted absolute access. "Your background is actually checked with EasyIQ, so you get access to the systems you're allowed to access." Foster said. "With GOD, it was never checked."

As customers have moved off single-system 3000 environments into "a multitude of specialized application platforms, they need to have a way of identifying who their users were," Foster said. Systemtech has evolved its solution over time, "so what this does is consolidate the identity management issue. It allows identity management to come from a single source, and get it delivered to where it's needed." This gives the software more than simple sign-on capabilities. EasyIQ provisions data based on the same identity across the environments that are replacing the HP 3000.

BY THE TIME an education computer user gets exposed to as many as a dozen systems, "that's a lot of passwords to try to coordinate," Foster added. "EasyIQ just makes it auto-magic."

EasyIQ is being used by K-12 and secondary education institutions throughout Denmark to provision single sign-on identities for over 650,000 students, teachers, professors, and administrators. The company has been visiting MB Foster customers across North America for the past year in seeking a partnership to migrate its solution outside of Europe. Systemtech president Simon Christoffersen said his company was looking for experience, reach, knowledge and infrastructure in a partner.

"I have worked with Birket Foster for the last year to define the market strategy for EasyIQ in North America," he stated in a press release. "MB Foster’s extensive experience and connections have given us introductions to accounts who will pilot EasyIQ. We are confident of significant North American growth by working with MB Foster’s sales and technical teams to lead our North American expansion efforts."

The Microsoft-based consulting and software company was founded in 2004 and specializes in the IT education environment. Windows environments can be built on top of Microsoft Active Directory Services, or use a standard identity management system together with EasyIQ.

"The closest the HP 3000 came to multiple login management was a CHANGELOG process here and there," Foster said. "Once you were in an application, you could pick something off a menu and switch you across to something else. This is similar to that -- but because of the nature of Windows and multitasking computers at the desktop level nowadays, plus browser-based technology, you'll be able to have more than one application connected at the same time."

As for MB Foster's multitasking connections to new markets, this is the first solution that goes beyond an product or service evolved from HP 3000 or 9000 software. EasyIQ is rooted in the company's integration heritage, however.

"We spent the time to investigate the marketplace, looking at our customer base and as well as potential customers," Foster said. "It turns out all of the colleges and universities we visited have a problem: trying to integrate things consistently, on a long-term basis. While they may have a graduate student who's brilliant and makes integration happen right now, two years from now when they need something integrated with a new release from one of their many vendors, they've been forced to go back to the drawing board. The grad student probably moved on, and nobody knows where the documentation is for that student's integration work."