1.1 How Access Manager Solves Business Challenges

As networks expand to connect people and businesses throughout the world, secure access to business resources becomes increasingly more important and more complex. Gone are the days when all employees worked from the same office; today’s employees work from corporate, home, and mobile offices. Equally gone are the days when employees were the only ones who required access to resources on your network; today, customers and partners require access to resources on your network, and your employees require access to resources on partners’ networks or at service providers.

Novell Access Manager lets you provide employees, customers, and partners with secure access to your network resources, whether those resources are Web applications, traditional server-based applications, or other content. If your business faces any of the following access-related challenges, Access Manager can help:

The following sections expand on these challenges and introduce the solutions provided by Access Manager. If you are already aware of the business solutions provided by Access Manager, you might want to skip to the technical introduction provided in Section 1.2, How Access Manager Works.

1.1.1 Protecting Resources While Providing Access

The primary purpose of Access Manager is to protect resources by allowing access only to users you have authorized. You can control access to Web (HTTP) resources as well as traditional server-based (non-HTTP) resources. As shown in the following illustration, those users who are authorized to use the protected resources are allowed access, while unauthorized users are denied access.

Access Manager secures your protected Web resources from Internet hackers. The addresses of the servers that host the protected resources are hidden from both external and internal users. The only way to access the resources is by logging in to Access Manager with authorized credentials.

Access Manager protects only the resources you have set up as protected resources. It is not a firewall and should always be used in conjunction with a firewall product.

Because not all users work from within the confines of your local network, access to resources is independent of a user’s location, as shown in the following illustration. Access Manager provides the same secure access and same experience whether the user is accessing resources from your local office, from home, or from an airport terminal.

1.1.2 Managing Passwords with Single Sign-On

If your organization is like most, you have multiple applications that require user login. Multiple logins typically equates to multiple passwords. And multiple passwords mean forgotten passwords.

Authentication through Access Manager not only establishes authorization to applications (see Protecting Resources While Providing Access above), but it can also provide authentication to those same applications. With Access Manager serving as the front-end authentication, you can deploy standards-based Web single sign-on, which means your employees, partners, and customers only need to remember one password or login routine to access all the corporate and Web-based applications they are authorized to use. That means far fewer help desk calls and the reduced likelihood of users resorting to vulnerable written reminders.

By simplifying the use and management of passwords, Access Manager helps you enhance the user’s experience, increase security, streamline business processes, and reduce system administration and support costs.

1.1.3 Enforcing Business Policies

Determining the access policies for an organization is often complicated and difficult, but the difficulty pales in comparison to enforcing the policies. Your IT personnel can spend hours attempting to give users the correct access to resources, and hours more retracing their steps to see why the users can’t access what they should be able to. What’s worse, you might never know about the situations where users are granted access to resources they shouldn’t be accessing.

Access Manager automates the granting and removing of access through the use of roles and policies. As shown in the following illustration, users are assigned to roles that have access policies associated with them. Each time a user authenticates through Access Manager, the user’s access is determined by the policies associated with the user’s roles.

In the following example, users assigned to the Accounting role receive access to the Accounting resources, Payroll users receive access to the Payroll resources, and Accounting managers receive access to both the Accounting and Manager resources.

Because access is based on roles, you can grant access in minutes and be certain that the access is consistent with your business policies. And, equally important, you can revoke access in minutes by removing role assignments from users.

For security-minded organizations, it comes down to this simple fact: you set the policies by which users gain access, and Access Manager enforces them consistently and quickly. There are no surprises and no delays.

1.1.4 Sharing Identity Information

In today’s business environment, few organizations stand alone. More than likely, you have trusted business partners with whom you need to shared resources in a secure manner. Or, you have business services, such as a 401k management system, to which you need to provide employee access. Or, maybe your organization is the one providing services to another business. Access Manager provides federated identity management to enable users to seamlessly and securely authenticate across autonomous identity domains.

For example, assume that you have employees who need access to your corporate applications, several business partner’s applications, and their 401k service, as shown in the following figure.

Each identity domain (your organization, your partner’s organization, and the 401k service) requires an account and authentication to that account in order to access the resources. However, because you’ve used Access Manager to establish a trust relationship with the business partner and the 401k service, your employees can log in through Access Manager to gain access to the authorized resources in all three identity domains.

Access Manager not only enables your employees to access resources from business partners and service providers, it also lets business partners access authorized resources on your network as if the resources were part of their own network. Or, if you are a service provider, the same is true for your customers. The following figure illustrates this type of access.

In addition to simply linking user accounts in different identity domains, Access Manager also supports federated provisioning, which means that new user accounts can be automatically created in your trusted partner’s (or provider’s) system. For example, a new employee in your organization can initiate the creation of an account in your business partner’s system through Access Manager rather than relying on the business partner to provide the account. Or, customers or trusted business partners can automatically create accounts in your system.

Access Manager leverages identity federation standards, including Liberty Alliance, WS-Security and SAML. This foundation minimizes—or even eliminates—interoperability issues among external partners or internal workgroups. In fact, Access Manager features an identical configuration process for all federation partners, whether they are different departments within your organization or external business partners.

1.1.5 Protecting Identity Information

Whenever you exchange identity information with other businesses or service providers, you must be concerned with protecting the privacy of your employees, customers, and partners. In fact, it’s an integral part of trusted business partnerships and regulatory compliance: the ability to establish policies on the exchange of identity information.

For example, Access Manager enables you to determine which business and personal information from your corporate directory is shared with others. As shown in the following illustration, you can choose to share only the information required to establish the account at the service provider or trusted partner.

Access Manager offers this built-in privacy protection for your employees, partners, and customers alike, wherever they are working. With Access Manager in place, your organization can guarantee user confidentiality. And for federated provisioning, Access Manager adheres to those same policies and protections.

1.1.6 Complying with Regulations

Regulations can be a hassle, but an agile, automated IT infrastructure substantially cuts costs and reduces the pain of compliance. By implementing access based on user identities, you can protect users’ privacy and confidential information. At the same time, you can reduce the amount of paperwork needed to prove that proper access control measures are in place. Compliance assurance and documentation is an inherent benefit of Access Manager.

Specifically, Access Manager helps you stay in compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, European Union privacy laws and other regulatory requirements—and you’ll find it easy to prove your compliance. For an internal assessment or an external auditor, Access Manager can generate the reports you need, turning compliance requirements into opportunities to develop and implement processes that improve your business practices.