2019-11-08 01:46:22

How Studentnet got their head in the cloud

By Emma Westwood
Writer | Editor | Content & Digital Strategist

EdSmart has developed integrations with a number of providers that make our platform even more powerful. We’d like to introduce you to one of our valued tech partners in offering single sign-on services, Studentnet.

Few people today can boast around 30 years of experience in Internet-related technologies, which makes Kevin Karp the member of a very elite international group. His company, Studentnet, dates back to the early days of the World Wide Web – 1996 to be exact.

“Studentnet was an initiative of the Association of Independent Schools (AIS) in New South Wales,” Kevin explains. “It was very novel at the time. Nobody really knew what it was going to do and what it was going to look like. It was very innovative. Schools weren't talking about the Internet in 1996 but it wasn’t long before they had to jump on the bandwagon and needed services like email and website hosting and domain registration.”

Fast-forward to 2007, the management at AIS changed, and a newer, more sophisticated network infrastructure was in place. The new guard at AIS approached Kevin and basically handed him Studentnet on a platter. Kevin acknowledges that he took on a dying service but, in doing so, he had the vision to steer Studentnet to what it is today – a market leader in cloud services designed specifically for education.


As Kevin admits, “Very quickly we realised that the [Studentnet] service was imploding, it was about to be replaced by free services. They [Studentnet] were overcharging for what they were providing, and the service they were providing wasn’t rich enough. So we said to the schools still on Studentnet in 2007, ‘Give us a year and we'll dramatically enhance what you've got’."

Kevin commends those initial schools for their patience and willingness to back him and his team in their idea to move to the cloud, which was an abstract concept at the time.

“We dramatically reduced the pricing to one-fifth of its previous cost,” he continues. “We increased the functionality and we said to them, ‘We're taking you to the cloud.’ That was a very bold statement to say to schools in 2007/2008. We were laughed at.”

"We were laughed at”

But, as Kevin proudly states, “Innovation and boldness have always been part of the Studentnet message”, and any naysayers soon had egg on their faces.

“By 2010, we realised schools would embrace cloud-based services. But, we also realised that would have very severe consequences for the school's cost of administration, and also severe consequences for the user experience – the community experience – in particular, when accessing multiple different services, when you go to Google for your mail or you go to Canvas for your learning management system or you go to ClickView to look at videos.”

Kevin recognised that multiple sign-ins has become an administrative nightmare for the education industry. Take, for example, if a teacher resigned – the school would have to delete the accounts across a number of different systems. What would happen if you missed one? Would the teacher still have access to that system? Who's auditing that? Who's logging that? How do you keep track of all the different services that the teacher has logged into? The list goes on and on and on.

“By having a single credential, which is part of what we were delivering with Studentnet, by deleting one credential – bang – the teacher lost access to everything,” says Kevin. “That was a major cost-saving, and a major improvement in their operations, by being able to have a single credential to worry about rather than a credential in every different system. It meant life is much simpler for the school administration.”

In 2010, in response to this administrative conundrum, Studentnet commenced the building of an identity management system – Cloudwork. Since that point in time, Studentnet’s sole focus has been on maintaining and using identities that are easier for the user, as well as schools.

"This whole area of identification, identity and authentication are critical and are under constant review"

“We've been building Cloudwork since 2010,” Kevin continues, “and we see years of development ahead of us, because this whole area of identification, identity and authentication are critical and are under constant review. Even on the nightly news, even when I go to a dinner party, I hear people who know nothing about tech telling me how much of a pain it is to maintain user IDs and passwords, and how much of a pain it is when their phone gets hacked and when they have their identity stolen.”

“This is happening on a day-to-day basis to people in the street. This has become a common discussion now. The whole question of identity and authentication has become a very prevalent, modern day problem for people.”

The EdSmart-Studentnet connection was a natural fit that came about when EdSmart first launched (as ParentPaperwork) in 2014. This relationship continues to flourish close to seven years down the track, with both companies acting as shining examples of what can be achieved in education through cloud-related innovation.

“There's an extraordinary amount of innovation and development happening in the education space,” concludes Kevin. “I look at what guys like David [Eedle, CTO, EdSmart] are doing, and I'm just in awe.”

Like to know more about Studentnet? Visit online at studentnet.id

Find out more about using single sign-on with EdSmart in our Knowledge Base.


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