Telstra deploys single sign-on for staff

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Staff were 'breaking every security policy',

Telstra has completed roll-out of single sign-on infrastructure for 400 staff at its global operations centre in Melbourne.

The deployment, based on IBM's TAM ESSO 8 software, involved 714 desktop PCs at the operations centre and was estimated to yield up to $1.5 million in productivity savings per year.

It would automate login processes for up to 230 applications required by staff at the centre which oversees critical network services and other Telstra operations.

Surveillance staff previously signed on to at least 20 applications individually at the beginning of each shift. Most of those applications required unique passwords and often usernames.

Staff had taken to storing passwords on spreadsheets, notebooks, printed sheets of paper and post-it notes, among others, to remember individual login credentials.

"We were breaking every security IT policy," said Telstra support engineer, Herman Recinos.

Password resets for individual applications often took between 24 and 48 hours for staff.

Staff had also called for the replacement of a previous attempt at single sign-on, TAM ESSO version 6, which often corrupted credentials and would not refresh any changed passwords.

Staff who hot-desked between computers and shifts were often unable to properly login to one or multiple computers and applications simultaneously.

The single sign-on capability was deployed across all desktops in the surveillance room of the centre "overnight", according to Recinos. It was used across two servers running Windows 2003 virtual machines and housed in separate Telstra exchanges for redundancy.

The deployment had been made relatively cleanly though IBM consultant Robert Trotter conceded that, at one point, the software rollout prompted the giant, NASA-like monitoring screen housed within the centre to reset.

Rival telco Optus had also recently deployed a self-service password management system in an attempt to reduce productivity and helpdesk costs by up to $300,000 per year.

James Hutchinson attended the Pulse 2011 Conference as a guest of IBM.

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