What the Heck is iChain All About?
Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
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Posted: 12 Mar 2001
Current Version: iChain 1.5
We've had a few letters from people who want a no-nonsense explanation of what iChain is all about. So here it is in a nutshell. If you have more questions, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our darnedest to clarify things.
iChain is an eSecurity and management infrastructure that provides a common security framework for enabling eBusiness services that reduces your time to market and minimizes your eHeadaches. (If you don't have any eHeadaches yet, drop us a line. We'd love to know what you're taking...)
You've probably seen the need already. If you haven't, you soon will. You're moving to leverage the Net to your advantage by gaining new customers, strengthening partnerships and reducing your costs. But how do you embrace the Net without giving away the farm at the same time? How do you control access to sensitive data and web applications for your entire environment? Why is every web development group in your company spending time creating their own authentication and authorization mechanisms, instead of leveraging a common system? Why is your heart racing and your head pounding? Because you're not using iChain. Yet.
Typical environment today
iChain truly simplifies, secures and accelerates your move to embrace the Net and work it to your advantage.
Go ahead. Be skeptical. Introducing a new element into your environment adds complexity, right? Not if it's iChain. iChain simplifies your Net environment when compared to similar solutions, because of its unique architecture. iChain is unique, because it's built on an unobtrusive proxy accelerator architecture that easily plugs in to your existing environment. You don't have to add code to your web servers to provide security or add an additional software variable and increased risk to your mission-critical web servers. You really don't.
How iChain fits into your system
In addition, because iChain is proxy-based, it is able to simplify and enhance your users' web experience by enabling single sign-on to your backend web applications and web servers. It also simplifies your web developers' jobs, because it provides a secure infrastructure that they can count on, instead of coding their own security for every web service they provide.
How Single Sign-on works
What's more, iChain is natively integrated with Novell NDS? eDirectory ?, the most widely used directory service in the world. This integration allows iChain to leverage identity information stored in eDirectory and forward it to your backend servers. This means your web applications can utilize the information provided by iChain to create a personalized and customized web experience that will keep your users coming back for more. It's just that simple.
iChain is an eSecurity infrastructure, so it secures, right? Right! Not only does the proxy architecture simplify your environment, it also adds an additional layer of security, because it becomes the public interface to your web sites, instead of the web servers themselves. To that, it adds the ability to require authentication to specified web services and allows access to only those users (or groups of users) to whom access has been granted. Everyone else gets nothing. Zip. Nada.
iChain supports strong authentication methods, such as authentication via X.509 certificates and multi-factor authentication. This means you have a choice of using the standard username (userID, e-mail address, or any LDAP field) and password option, an X.509 certificate or, for added security, requiring both methods before granting access to your web site. iChain also provides password management options that allow administrators to require stronger passwords to authenticate to the iChain environment, including dictionary checking and password formatting.
How Authentication works
iChain is also able to secure the data channel between the proxy and the user's web browser. This is accomplished by the ability of the proxy to create an SSL session with the browser on the fly. So the web sites are secure, the data on the Internet is secure. Oh yeah, it's secure.
Not only does iChain secure, it also accelerates. That's because iChain isn't built on some no-name, homegrown, pseudo-proxy wannabe. It's built on the Volera Excelerator (formerly known as the Novell Internet Caching System) platform that is the market leader in accelerator cache appliances and is available from a large number of elite hardware vendors. Your web sites are probably serving up a fair amount of cacheable material - graphics, static HTML pages, PDFs, etc. - which the proxy can cache and then serve up to subsequent users lickety-split. No more world-wide-wait on your web sites!
Most importantly, however, iChain can significantly accelerate your move to embrace the Net. How? By providing an infrastructure you can build on, you can deliver new web services faster than ever before. Why? Because your web developers are spending their valuable time coding features and functionality that are important to your business, not continually recreating application-specific authentication routines that will be thrown away later. Who needs that headache anyway?
So check out iChain. It's the best way to secure your move to one Net and eliminate your eHeadaches. For more information, browse to www.novell.com/products/ichain, and get the Power to Change with iChain.
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