Interview

Tivoli's new i-mode support taps into 25 million new users

Michael S. Mimoso, Editorial Director
Where does access control software stand in the security sector?
Right now the authentication space in the security market is the fastest growing according to IDC. One big e-business issue is how to use security to help business get online quicker. Security for the most part deals with network issues like firewalls, intrusion detection, securing the network. But it does nothing for business units working on applications. Those units have to write customized security rules within those applications. There are three negatives there: It takes longer to get an application deployed; it costs more; and there's a total cost of ownership issue. For example, customers have to go to each application and indicate they are a top-tier customer to get access rights. Essentially, there's a wall between the network security people and application security. The question is how to make security an enabler rather than an inhibitor. That's what led to the growth of software for access control. This new class of software does that for application development. Business units get their applications deployed quicker because they don't have to write security into it any more. Access control software does that for them. How deep is i-mode's penetration worldwide?
I-mode wireless devices are being used by 25 million subscribers, most of them in Japan, for services, applications, even games. And that same security engine that supports enterprise access supports users from i-mode devices. We

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are the first to market. We've been pretty aggressive about wireless stuff. We developed wireless support for Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), which is an open standard. I-mode, however, is the de facto standard because it is so widely used. Separate access rules for applications and networks must be a significant business inhibitor?
We noticed there was a strong demand from customers who want to check on something from outside the office from a wireless device. We wanted to get them to check in using the same access policy. These days, setting up separate security infrastructures for wireless devices separate from PC and browser access is difficulty. Intuitively, obviously there's a large cost structure there. What we are asserting is that it makes a lot more sense that the same security engine that protects browser and PC access should be the same one that protects access from a wireless device. With our added support, it all goes through the same security policy management engine. It ensures that security policy remains consistent throughout a transaction. Will anything change from a user's standpoint?
Users don't see anything different than they do now. Today, when you try to connect to a URL from a wireless device, you get prompted for a user ID and a password. After it's checked against a database, you are connected to the server housing the data you're looking for. Our support sits between the device and the server. You see the same previous request, but we then take the information and translate it into an enterprise user ID. Users are issued only one password and single sign-on. Users see nothing different.
There's a stark bottom line here. At the front end, users want the freedom of using a wireless device to access the same data as when you are on your browser-based PC. At the back end, IT wants their applications deployed quicker and something's been holding them back and that was having to write security rules into applications.

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