Both Sun Microsystems and Top Layer Networks have unveiled separate network identity solutions designed to authenticate users from multiple access points across university campuses.
Top Layer has unveiled the Secure Edge Controller – a hardware appliance that can authorise and manage network usage at the application level according to the access privileges each user has been assigned.
When a PC is plugged into the network, information is routed through the Edge Controller to an existing authentication server, which sends a log-on back to the user.
Using a zone application interface (ZAPI), the controller then assigns the user their appropriate access privileges according to the policy details located on the appliance for that user, according to Top Layer Networks Australia and New Zealand country manager David Britt.
“We have been trialling the controller in university sites worldwide since April this year,” Britt said.
“There was a particularly long beta test phase for the controller to make sure everything was ironed out before we released it to the market, but now that we actually have the product we will be re-approaching Australian universities in more detail.”
Britt said the dissatisfaction with current systems stemmed from both their inability to apply different grades to users depending on their identity, and the need to install client software on every PC before it can access the network.
“It can be very difficult to insist that all students and staff install certain client software on their laptops before they can log on so the concept of web-based client authentication is of great interest to these network operators,” Britt said.
Britt also identified the government and defence sectors as possible target markets for the product but said that no effort had been made to have the product approved for government department use.
“We haven’t done enough of an analysis as to whether there is a requirement for the product in those markets,” Britt said.
Sun Microsystems has also announced a similar solution, which sees the solutions of five security partners integrated with the Sun ONE platform for network identity.
Solutions from Entrust, Banyan Systems France, Business Layers, Passlogix and Persistent Co have been integrated with Sun ONE to enable web single sign-on (SSO), and policy driven role-based access to applications and services on the network as well as integrated user/identity management.
Like Top Layer’s solution, the ONE platform network identity suite is web-based and allows universities to deal with the networking issues of incorporating the seasonal influx of students in and out of their computing environment.