Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Blog Feed Post

F5 Friday: Application Access Control - Code, Agent, or Proxy?

How about some integration, instead? A combined Oracle Access Manager and F5 BIG-IP Access Policy Manager solution is more scalable, more reliable, and easier to manage than any of the traditional three solutions.



In the course of deploying applications it becomes necessary to ensure that only authenticated and authorized users have access to that application. Over time several solutions have been used to provide this capability, but each one comes with its own set of challenges. There is a fourth option, however, that’s arisen from understanding the limitations (and advantages) of each of the previous three options. That fourth option is more scalable, more reliable, and definitely easier to manage than previous incarnations.


In the beginning, developers created web applications. And the users saw that it was good. But then it was decided that only certain people should have have access to those applications and developers had to figure out how to “authenticate” those people to the application. Oh, at first web applications used simple techniques like HTTP Basic Authentication, but the costs associated with managing both an internal directory of users and a second application access control store for each application got to be too much. So they found a way to use existing corporate identity stores to authenticate access through the applications. They wrote code specifically for the identity store right in the app. This, of course, eventually caused a great deal of consternation the first time an organization attempted to change identity store vendors. It also wasn’t very pleasant to contemplate an upgrade in the libraries that enabled that integration as they often deprecated or simply removed functions that caused the application to break or worse – to be completely without any kind of authentication whatsoever. It also didn’t lend itself well to single-sign on capabilities, which over time was becoming an increasingly heated demand from users.  image


So next came agents on servers. These little daemons were deployed on every web or application server and enabled applications to directly talk to existing corporate application access control directories, which meant eliminating a lot of waste (and code) used to enable the “code in the app” solution. Generally these agents were deployed at the application server level and managed “above” the application, so every application deployed in that container could take advantage of the solution without hard-wiring the solution into the code. The problem was you still had something to manage on every server on which the application was deployed, and as more and more solutions picked up the “agent-based” model there began to be conflicts between them. If you weren’t careful about managing and synchronizing the access control configuration, you could also run into some real fun when you tried to scale out the solution.


So it was that specialized proxies came into existence. These solutions were deployed in front of web and application servers, inline, and intercepted all requests as a means to apply application access control in a centralized manner. These worked much better than their distributed predecessors, and offered the attractive lower cost of maintenance but at a price: they were not cheap. That became evident when such solutions attempted to scale out. Because they didn’t scale out well – they were, after all, a solution focused on providing application access control, not scalability or high-performance – you needed many more of them to keep up with application and user growth.

But what else is there?


The fourth option is one we’re now beginning to see emerge in the market: unified application delivery enabled with application access control capabilities and integrated with existing enterprise identity and access management stores, such as Oracle Access Manager, via open, standards-based APIs.

Oracle Access Manager allows users of your applications or IT systems to log in once and gain access to a broad range of IT resources. Oracle Access Manager provides an identity management and access control system that is shared by all your applications. The result is a centralized and automated single sign-on (SSO) solution for managing who has access to what information across your entire IT infrastructure. Oracle Access Manager is available as a stand-alone product or as part of Oracle's award-winning Oracle Identity & Access Management Suite.

-- Oracle


The fourth option is an evolutionary step that combines the benefits of a traditional proxy with those of a more scalable, high-performance application delivery platform that mitigates the challenges that came with pure specialized proxy solutions. By enabling a unified application delivery controller, F5 BIG-IP, with the ability to apply application access policies inline the solution resolves neatly the problems that have previously plagued the integration of application security and applications since the first centralized identity management store was introduced.

A combined F5-Oracle solution works seamlessly because BIG-IP Access Policy Manager is fully integrated via BIG-IP’s open, standards based API, iControl. It allows what is an existing strategic point of control – the component responsible for scaling and delivering applications – to extend its performance and reliability to application access control, enabling not only OAM Single Sign-On (SSO) functionality for end-users but also providing the ability to apply other application delivery network functionality such as web application security and acceleration simultaneously on a single, unified platform. This reduces management costs and eases scalability concerns as applications can be easily virtualized and scaled without sacrificing security, access control, or performance. All application delivery functions become the responsibility of BIG-IP which leverages the granular, application access security provided by Oracle Access Manager.

Unlike a specialized proxy, this solution also enables scalability of Oracle Access Manager, which makes it easy to scale your application access control solution along with your applications. You get scalability, security, and centralized management in a single, integrated solution.

For more information on the F5-Oracle solution for fast, scalable, flexible application access control, you can check out these resources:


 Solution Overview

pdf-icon Deployment Guide

video_icon DevCentral Video



oralogo_small F5 and Oracle have been partners for a long time and work jointly not only on integration between products but to provide best practices for deploying F5 and Oracle solutions together. You may have heard of a little trade show called Oracle OpenWorld 2010? F5 will be in attendance and we’ve got some new solutions to show you specifically around scaling a product you might also have heard of about: Oracle Database. So if you’re attending, stop by the booth (#1427, Moscone South) and check it out.

Related blogs & articles:

Follow me on Twitter    View Lori's profile on SlideShare  friendfeed icon_facebook

AddThis Feed Button Bookmark and Share

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@ThingsExpo Stories
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...