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Navigating the Digital Shift: Belmont University's Journey to Tech Modernization

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About the Client


Belmont University, located in Nashville, Tennessee offers a broad range of majors, and serves a diverse student body of 9,000. In pursuit of enhancing operational efficiency and embracing modern technology and security practices, Belmont needed to modernize their technology stack.

Challenges

  1. Separate Ecosystems:
    Belmont encountered a significant challenge as its faculty and students operated within separate tech environments. While the faculty worked within the Microsoft ecosystem, approximately 9,000 students utilized Gmail. This created inconsistencies in document sharing and overall communication. For instance, with students in G-Suite and faculty in Microsoft they could not directly share documents across platforms, forcing faculty to try other 3rd party solutions like Dropbox for a common share point. With the fall semester fast approaching, Belmont faced a tight timeline to transition students to Outlook swiftly and establish a comprehensive communication strategy. Additionally, despite using Zoom for online classes, Belmont recognized the potential for enhanced collaboration and adoption by integrating Microsoft Teams, aligning with their existing tech stack.

  2. Aging On-Premises Systems:
    The university relied on an on-premises Active Directory along with various fragmented systems.
    However, these systems struggled to cope with rapid growth and lacked the capabilities necessary to modernize certain operations, such as efficient Identity and Access Management. For instance, students were required to manage multiple different log-in credentials and passwords to access Belmont’s array of applications, resulting in cumbersome user experiences and potential security vulnerabilities.

  3. Increased Cyber Threats and Device Management:
    With 11,000 users, including faculty and staff, Belmont faced escalating cybersecurity threats. The University required a robust solution for threat monitoring and a streamlined device management system capable of addressing legacy breaches and accommodating user expansion.

Solution


Migration to Microsoft 365 (M365): Belmont consolidated its email systems from Gmail to M365, the move improvedcommunication across students, faculty, and staff through a Teams and Outlook integration.


Zero Trust Architecture Implementation: To enhance security, Belmont adopted a zero-trust framework, emphasizing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and constant proactive threat prevention principles to unify their security posture across all systems.


Device Management with Intune: Adopting Intune allowed Belmont to build a new, scalable device management system from the ground up, streamlining the onboarding process and implementing Identity and Access management deployment principles.

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Outcomes

  1. Enhanced Collaboration and Communication:
    The integration of OneDrive and Microsoft Teams, connecting with existing student platforms like Canvas, revolutionized how students, faculty, and staff collaborate. Centralizing communication and improving collaboration, this integration streamlined processes. With a well-thought-out 8-week communication plan involving email, text blasts, and communication footers, Belmont seamlessly transitioned 9,000 students from G-Suite to Microsoft 365 before the fall semester. The IT team has received fantastic feedback from faculty and staff, noting the marked improvement in communication and collaboration with the integration of Microsoft 365 technologies.

  2. Simplified Processes and Cost Savings:
    As Belmont aimed to modernize its technology infrastructure, this included consolidating user credentials for all students and staff by implementing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). With the assistance of JourneyTEAM, Belmont successfully deployed a customized authentication schema, enabling seamless access to all 75 systems using a single username and password for students and staff. Furthermore, transitioning to Microsoft 365 and Intune minimized licensing overhead costs, streamlined device authentication processes, and improved user access. This also led to a substantial reduction in service desk inquiries and associated costs.

  3. Improved Security and Operational Efficiency:
    The shift to a zero-trust architecture and streamlined device management processes resulted in a significant decrease in phishing threats and saved operational time. With Intune, Belmont can utilize multiuser core images allowing them the capability to take the device out of the box, deploy the correct core image, and then add specific department proprietary software. This standardized approach has significantly reduced the timeframe it takes Belmont to deliver devices to the university. Most recently they managed to deliver 255 operational, secure desktops to the newly opening College of Medicine within just 8 days, down from the previous 30-day duration.

JourneyTEAM felt like they became a part of our team. Our meetings felt like internal Belmont meetings. They would explain and walk us through things, while we would drive, giving us the hands-on training we needed to fully adopt and migrate to Teams and Entra ID. We really appreciate the ongoing support from you guys, and the value of training and resource help has provided great return on investment.

Ron Romano, Director of Endpoint and Enterprise Systems Management

Looking to Improve or Secure User Access?

This modernization effort has set a foundation for Belmont to leverage technology in alignment with its educational mission and operational goals, ensuring a secure, efficient, and collaborative environment for its users.

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