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Issues in User Account Management in Academic Environments

by Brajesh Pande


Academic environments have unique needs of user account management.  Most of the user accounts in this environment are created at the beginning of a term or an academic
year though some accounts may be created at any time.  Some sort of physical identity verification is also necessary before the creation of a user’s account.  Once these accounts have been created, passwords may be distributed on machines based on internal policies.  An account may also be temporarily suspended due to several reasons.  It may be necessary to record and distribute such suspension information.  It may also be required to segregate user accounts based on departments and designations.  Finally several users leave at the end of an academic session and requests about extension of the time for which the user account remain active may have to be entertained.  Though the typical account lifespan extends to the duration of the academic programme for a student, several accounts are created for much smaller durations and several accounts have a larger time span in the password file.  Handling these varying time spans for which a user’s account is active is also necessary.

Managing the password file in an effective manner so that this can be accomplished is necessary.  This paper deals with several such issues in managing user accounts that arose at the computer centre of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.  Methods and strategies for solving these issues and the solutions developed to implement these strategies are also discussed.  These set of utilities greatly improved performance efficiency in various scenarios.  Developing and implementing these scripts also freed the system administrators as several of these scripts were later handed over to other personnel.

Brajesh Pande
Senior Computer Engineer
Computer Centre, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India

Download the paper: Issues in User Account Management in Academic Environments