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					                                               Microsoft Infrastructure Optimization
                                               Customer Solution Case Study




                                               Florida Gives Teachers Secure Online Access
                                               to Terabytes of Student Data



Overview                                       ―A solid security infrastructure is a critical prerequisite
Country or Region: United States
Industry: Government—Regional/state
                                               to making this valuable data available online to
                                               teachers … who can use it to improve teaching and
Customer Profile
The Florida Department of Education (DOE)
                                               make better decisions.‖
supplies support and services to the more      Jeff Sellers, Acting Deputy Commissioner, Division of Accountability, Research, and Measurement,
than 2.6 million students, 180,000             Florida Department of Education
teachers, and 3,800 public schools in
Florida.
                                               Since the mid 1980s, the Florida Department of Education (DOE)
                                               has collected student, staff, and workforce data and used it to
Business Situation
The DOE wanted to provide an easy, secure
                                               guide program development and funding. As data volumes grew, so
way to give teachers, legislators, and other   did demand for the data—from teachers, administrators, legislators,
stakeholders online access to the terabytes
of student data collected since 1984.
                                               and parents. To provide constituents with secure access to
                                               confidential student data, the DOE created a Web portal called
Solution
The department built a portal using
                                               Sunshine Connections using Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server
Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server           2007. It then worked with Microsoft Services to create a robust
2007, and used Active Directory® Domain
Services and Active Directory Federation
                                               identity infrastructure using Active Directory® Federation Services
Services to secure the site.                   and Microsoft software for security and identity management. Easy,
Benefits
                                               secure access to student data helps teachers improve their
 Simple, secure access to student data        teaching and leads to improved administrative decisions. The
 Easy logon for data sharing
 Adaptable to changing needs
                                               simple logon process encourages teachers to explore the data, and
 Lower operational costs                      the familiarity of the infrastructure makes the site easy to maintain.
―It was our                                 Situation                                         from the K-12, state college, and university
                                            The Florida Department of Education (DOE)         databases using Oracle database software
understanding that                          administers prekindergarten through twelfth       and reporting tools. The idea was to use
Oracle was one of the                       grade and state college (PK-20) public            these tools to enable many more people
                                            education in the state of Florida and supports    beyond the DOE IT staff to securely analyze
better enterprise                           more than 2.6 million students, more than         this wealth of data.
databases, but the                          180,000 teachers, 318,000 full-time staff,
                                            and 3,800 schools. The DOE is based in            However, the DOE had limited success with
Oracle reporting tools                      Tallahassee, Florida, and has 1,255 full-time     Oracle. ―It was our understanding that Oracle
were not able to handle                     employees.                                        was one of the better enterprise databases,
                                                                                              but the Oracle reporting tools were not able
that much data.‖                            Since the mid 1980s, the Florida DOE has          to handle that much data,‖ says Jeff Sellers,
Jeff Sellers, Acting Deputy Commissioner,   been collecting staff and student-level data      Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Division
Division of Accountability, Research, and   from the state’s 67 school districts, including   of Accountability, Research, and
Measurement, Florida Department of          student demographics, courses taken and           Measurement for the Florida Department of
Education                                   completed, attendance, transcripts, and           Education. ―The Oracle software was also
                                            more. The state maintains a similar database      difficult to use.‖
                                            for its state college system. The intent was to
                                            use this data as a basis for making better        The DOE envisioned opening up its data
                                            decisions about administering and funding         warehouse to constituents over a Web-based
                                            education programs in the state, to track         portal. Sellers anticipated that the Oracle
                                            progress as students move through the             reporting foundation would not be suitable for
                                            system, and to comply with state and federal      such a move because of the challenges
                                            reporting requirements.                           related to performance, complexity, and
                                                                                              security that he had encountered.
                                            The data has been stored in IBM DB2
                                            databases on a mainframe computer since           Even though the DOE development team had
                                            inception, and a programming staff uses           not identified replacement reporting
                                            COBOL and other mainframe programming             technologies for the site, it began building the
                                            languages to manually write reports from the      public portal in 2004. Working with
                                            data. This report-writing process is laborious    Microsoft® Services and the Microsoft
                                            and limits the constituents that the DOE can      Learning Group, the DOE used Microsoft
                                            serve to a select few state administrators.       Office SharePoint® Portal Server 2003 to
                                                                                              create a statewide teacher resource portal
                                            As the data volumes grew, so did the number       that it called Sunshine Connections
                                            of people who wanted access to this data.         (www.sunshineconnections.org). Sunshine
                                            Educators, legislators, teachers, researchers,    Connections provided Florida educators with
                                            and even parents wanted access to the             classroom management tools, instructional
                                            student data that Florida had accumulated—        strategies, curricular materials, and even
                                            more data than any other state in the             professional development opportunities.
                                            country; many states are just beginning to
                                            capture this kind of educational data. By         Sunshine Connections still needed a
                                            2000, Florida had collected terabytes of          reporting foundation that was easier to use,
                                            education data and was adding 100                 and a highly secure identity management
                                            gigabytes a year. To broaden access to its        infrastructure before DOE could use it to
                                            educational data, the DOE contracted with a       share its confidential student performance
                                            vendor in 2000 to create a data warehouse         data. ―Federal regulations such as the U.S.
―Active be able
―We willDirectory to                        Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act          organizations to extend their Active Directory
                                            [FERPA] place tight strictures on how student      accounts outside their boundaries, to
Federation Services
redeploy our staff from                     data is handled, accessed, and shared,‖            authorized partners. Using Active Directory
writing SQL Server
gave districts with                         Sellers says. ―We had to ensure that teachers      Federation Services, the DOE was able to very
                                            could only see education data for students in      securely and broadly grant access to
queries to designing and
existing Active Directory                   their class and that only authorized users         Sunshine Connections data.
building data marts and
setups access to                            could view relevant data.‖
                                                                                               ―Active Directory Federation Services gave
creating BI tools for use
Sunshine Connections                                                                           districts with existing Active Directory setups
using their existing
on Sunshine                                 Solution                                           access to Sunshine Connections using their
                                            In 2007, after a lengthy pilot, the DOE turned     existing logons,‖ Sellers says. ―They can also
logons.‖
Connections.‖                               to Microsoft Services for help in building the     manage their Sunshine Connections access
Jeff Sellers, Acting Deputy Commissioner,   reporting, identity, and security infrastructure   locally using existing Group Policy settings.‖
Division of Accountability, Research, and   for Sunshine Connections. The DOE decided          For school districts that do not have an Active
Measurement, Florida Department of          to upgrade Sunshine Connections to                 Directory service, the DOE generates Active
Education                                   Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and        Directory accounts for them.
                                            use that software’s business intelligence (BI)
                                            capabilities as the site’s reporting foundation.   Microsoft Services used Microsoft Identity
                                            It augmented those capabilities with the rich      Lifecycle Manager 2007 to manage user
                                            reporting capabilities in the Microsoft SQL        accounts by providing identity
                                            Server® 2005 data management software,             synchronization, certificate management, and
                                            which stores the data after it’s transferred       user provisioning from a single console. It
                                            from the Oracle data warehouse. The DOE            also used Microsoft Internet Security &
                                            used SQL Server 2005 Reporting Services to         Acceleration Server 2006 as an edge security
                                            create interactive Web-based and printed           gateway. This software serves as the main
                                            reports; SQL Server Analysis Services to           firewall for Sunshine Connections and also
                                            perform data mining on the warehouse; and          helps secure all content and applications for
                                            will soon use Microsoft Office                     remote access. The DOE also used Microsoft
                                            PerformancePoint® Server 2007 business             Forefront™ Security for SharePoint to scan
                                            intelligence software to glean insights from       portal documents for viruses and unwanted
                                            its data warehouse.                                (nonbusiness-related) content.

                                            As for identity infrastructure, the DOE had        The state’s 67 school districts can upload
                                            deployed the Active Directory® service as its      data to Sunshine Connections nightly. Active
                                            directory structure, and many larger school        Directory Federation Services helps secure
                                            districts, such as Miami-Dade, also had Active     this process and simplifies access to the
                                            Directory–based account structures. To take        state database.
                                            advantage of this investment, Sellers decided
                                            to use the latest Microsoft identity and           With a more secure identity infrastructure in
                                            security solutions to secure Sunshine              place, Sunshine Connections is now
                                            Connections.                                       organized into two sections: a public area
                                                                                               that provides free teacher tools and
                                            Microsoft Services used Active Directory           nonconfidential aggregated data to anyone
                                            Federation Services in the Windows Server®         who wants it, and a restricted area that
                                            2008 operating system to give all users            provides teachers and administrators with
                                            access to data on Sunshine Connections.            confidential tools and information specific to
                                            Active Directory Federation Services enables       their school and students. The DOE has
―Using data on Sunshine                     designed the identity infrastructure to            the requirements of FERPA and other federal
                                            authenticate users based on their Active           and state laws that mandate complete
Connections, legislators                    Directory role and to authorize them based on      confidentiality of student data,‖ Sellers says.
and school                                  the relevance of data to their role.               ―A solid security infrastructure is a critical
                                                                                               prerequisite to making this valuable data
administrators can                          For example, the security system ascertains        available online to teachers, administrators,
better determine where                      that an individual is teaching a particular        and other stakeholders who can use it to
                                            child before granting access to data about         improve teaching and make better decisions
to make [budget] cuts                       that child. ―Data access is all role-based,‖       about education in Florida.‖
and how to most                             Sellers says. ―A teacher can only see
                                            information about the students in their class,     Using the BI tools that the DOE has made
effectively use the                         or current students’ previous performance.         available on the site, teachers can compare
remaining funds.‖                           Administrators can only see information on         students’ performance in a single class or
                                            students in their schools.‖                        one student’s performance over time.
Jeff Sellers, Acting Deputy Commissioner,                                                      Schools can compare and review subjects
Division of Accountability, Research, and   The DOE runs Sunshine Connections on 40            across grade levels, reading scores from
Measurement, Florida Department of          Dell PowerEdge servers, and is evaluating the      2002 to the present, and many other metrics.
Education                                   use of Microsoft System Center Operations          Administrators and legislators can run all
                                            Manager 2007 to help monitor those servers.        sorts of reports to determine which programs
                                                                                               work and where additional funding is
                                                                                               required. ―With the current state of the
                                            Benefits                                           national economy, Florida had to slash more
                                            With the secure, easy-to-use identity and          than $1 billion from its education budget,‖
                                            security infrastructure for Sunshine               Sellers says. ―Using data on Sunshine
                                            Connections, the Florida Department of             Connections, legislators and school
                                            Education is able to offer thousands of users      administrators can better determine where to
                                            secure online access to terabytes of student-      make those cuts and how to most effectively
                                            level data. Rapid access to years of               use the remaining funds.‖
                                            performance data helps teachers improve
                                            instruction and gives administrators and           By democratizing performance data, the DOE
                                            legislators the data they need to make             also gives teachers and districts the ability to
                                            informed policy decisions about educational        analyze and act on their own data, before
                                            resources. Easy logon encourages more              someone else does it for them. ―In education
                                            frequent data sharing, and the flexible            as in business, the more information you
                                            infrastructure makes it easier to                  have, the better the decisions you can make,‖
                                            accommodate changes. Finally, the cost             Sellers says. ―Our schools want the
                                            effectiveness of Microsoft software saved          opportunity to evaluate and improve their
                                            Florida money in implementing the solution.        performance before critics take them to task
                                                                                               for nonperformance.‖
                                            Secure Online Access to Confidential
                                            Student Data                                       Easy Logon that Encourages Data
                                            By outfitting Sunshine Connections with a          Sharing
                                            robust and more secure identity and security       The DOE does not mandate the frequency
                                            infrastructure, the DOE can open its               with which school districts upload data to
                                            confidential data stores to potentially millions   Sunshine Connections, nor can it mandate
                                            of users over the Web. ―With this security         that teachers use the site. It can only make it
                                            infrastructure in place, we can safely meet        easy to upload the data and use the site, and
―By making it so easy for                   it can provide the assurance that the data is     The flexibility of the underlying Office
                                            extremely safe, to encourage use.                 SharePoint Server 2007 and Active Directory
districts to log on and                     ―Simplifying the logon procedure is one way       architecture enables the DOE to respond to
share data using tools                      to encourage more frequent data uploads,‖         changing needs. ―The Florida legislature, the
                                            Sellers says. ―And providing users with the       governor, and others throughout the
they already know,                          assurance that only authorized persons will       government have changing needs, and often
we’ve made it                               view the data helps us get participation from     funds aren’t available to respond to these
                                            additional districts,‖ Sellers says. ―There are   changing requirements,‖ Sellers says. ―That’s
workable.‖                                  serious repercussions for violating FERPA, so     why it helps to have an infrastructure based
                                            school districts need the assurance that          on Microsoft software that is cost effective to
Jeff Sellers, Acting Deputy Commissioner,   Sunshine Connection is highly secure.‖            modify.‖
Division of Accountability, Research, and
Measurement, Florida Department of          By extending its identity and security            Lower Operational Costs
Education                                   infrastructure to the 67 districts, the DOE       By giving its many constituents a way to self-
                                            gives them a flexible way to log on to            service their own information needs, the
                                            Sunshine Connection without any work on           Florida Department of Education will reduce
                                            their part. ―We provide and maintain Active       reporting labor. ―We will be able to redeploy
                                            Directory accounts if they don’t already have     our staff from writing SQL Server queries to
                                            them,‖ Sellers says. ―We also provide             designing and building data marts and
                                            administrative tools that they can use to         creating BI tools for use on Sunshine
                                            change, add, and delete accounts. By making       Connections,‖ Sellers says.
                                            it so easy for districts to log on and share
                                            data using tools they already know, we’ve
                                            made it workable.‖

                                            Adaptable to Changing Needs
                                            The DOE still receives data requests all the
                                            time, from all manner of constituents. The IT
                                            staff is working on mechanisms by which any
                                            authorized user can request data through
                                            Office SharePoint Server 2007 workflows and
                                            get what they need on the portal, without
                                            manual intervention from DOE staff.
For More Information                                            Microsoft Infrastructure Optimization
For more information about Microsoft                            With infrastructure optimization, you can
products and services, call the Microsoft                       build a secure, well-managed, and dynamic
Sales Information Center at (800) 426-                          core IT infrastructure that can reduce overall
9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft                             IT costs, make better use of resources, and
Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-                         become a strategic asset for the business.
2495. Customers who are deaf or hard-of-                        The Infrastructure Optimization model—with
hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone                      basic, standardized, rationalized, and
(TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in                         dynamic levels—was developed by Microsoft
the United States or (905) 568-9641 in                          using industry best practices and Microsoft’s
Canada. Outside the 50 United States and                        own experiences with enterprise customers.
Canada, please contact your local                               The Infrastructure Optimization model
Microsoft subsidiary. To access information                     provides a maturity framework that is flexible
using the World Wide Web, go to:                                and easily used as a benchmark for technical
www.microsoft.com                                               capability and business value.

For more information about Florida                              For more information about Microsoft
Department of Education services, call                          infrastructure optimization, go to:
(850) 245-0505 or visit the Web site at:                        www.microsoft.com/io
www.fldoe.org




                                                                 Software and Services                            Technologies
                                                                  Microsoft Server Product Portfolio              − Active Directory Domain Services
                                                                   − Windows Server 2008                           − Active Directory Federation Services
                                                                   − Microsoft Forefront Security for              − Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Analysis
                                                                     SharePoint                                      Services
                                                                   − Microsoft Internet Security &                 − Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Reporting
                                                                     Acceleration Server 2006                        Services
                                                                   − Microsoft Identity Lifecycle Manager         Services
                                                                     2007                                          − Microsoft Services
                                                                   − Microsoft SQL Server 2005
                                                                  Microsoft Office                              Hardware
                                                                   − Microsoft Office PerformancePoint              40 Dell PowerEdge servers
                                                                     Server 2007
                                                                   − Microsoft Office SharePoint Server
                                                                     2007


This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT
MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS
SUMMARY.

Document published June 2009

				
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Description: Since the mid 1980s, the Florida Department of Education (DOE) has collected student, staff, and workforce data and used it to guide program development and funding. As data volumes grew, so did demand for the data—from teachers, administrators, legislators, and parents. To provide constituents with secure access to confidential student data, the DOE created a Web portal called Sunshine Connections using Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server 2007. It then worked with Microsoft Services to create a robust identity infrastructure using Active Directory® Federation Services and Microsoft software for security and identity management. Easy, secure access to student data helps teachers improve their teaching and leads to improved administrative decisions. The simple logon process encourages teachers to explore the data, and the familiarity of the infrastructure makes the site easy to maintain.