The 100 Hour Board Tackles Single Sign-On


BYUSA (student association) runs a group blog, of sorts, called The 100 Hour Board where students can submit questions on any subject and a group of pseudonymous writers answer them. I wish it had RSS. The question for Oct 5th is "Is there any good reason why we are required to log in with the same account at least two times whenever we want to access the information on Route Y's Blackboard?" Route Y is the intranet and Blackboard is what exactly you'd expect a corporation to produce as courseware. Its bloated, slow, and poorly designed. Still, it gets used.

The 100 Hour Board asked someone in the Office of IT, who said essentially "the Blackboard software doesn't allow it yet" which isn't much of an answer. Actually, the real answer is that Blackboard was purchased, installed, and operated outside the purview of OIT and so the whole logging in thing is just an after thought.

This sort of thing is not uncommon in large organizations. One way to deal with it is to get nasty and insist that all enterprise applications have to be bought and operated by the central IT organization. That usually doesn't work. A better way is for the central IT organization to work with business units to create and an identity management architecture, the context within which every one agrees to buy and maintain applications that use the digital identity infrastructure. I will cover this in some depth in my upcoming O'Reilly book on digital identity.

Update: Steve Spigarelli writes to inform me that indeed, The 100 Hour Board does have an RSS feed so if a daily dose of answers to other people's questions about BYU is your thing--you've now got it in a convinient format. The RSS feed is advertised on the home page in small type at the top. My old eyes aren't so good at seeing small type in cyan on white.