Axeda Brings Coherence to Data Center Service Access
Axeda on Oct. 5 will give large enterprise IT shops a way to centrally control and audit secure access to data center software and hardware from multiple manufacturers and service providers.
The privately held Axeda has historically worked with individual manufacturers to help them establish secure links into customer data centers to service their products. But the company found that the multitude of methods used in data centers for establishing remote access for each vendor became a big burden, security risk and compliance problem for its customers customers.
"Through our experience in enabling vendors to have a secure, auditable way to proactively service their customers, we were called to come in the other way. We looked at the problem and found we have all the elements to help our customers customers," said Brian Anderson, vice president of marketing for Axeda, in Foxboro, Mass.
Most large data centers employ a range of methods to give manufacturers remote access into the data center to service their products, including setting up VPN connections, maintaining a bank of modems for dial-in access, or implementing desktop sharing. But each of those methods falls short when it comes to security and the ability to audit them, Anderson said.
"VPNs from a security [perspective] provide broad access [to the data center], modems are slow, expensive and theyre a big security risk, and with pure desktop sharing theres no record locally in the enterprise as to what was done in that session. Once the session is over, theres no record of what happened," he said.
The new Axeda ServiceLink 5 suite is designed to help large IT shops better manage the risk and reduce the administrative overhead associated with provisioning third-party access for each vendor or service organization coming into the data center.
Data center virtualization provider Egenera, of Marlboro, Mass., found the offering to be a big hit, especially among its financial services and health care customers concerned about Sarbanes Oxley Act and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance, said C.J. Rotella, director of service and operations.
"Any data moved up and down or data that leaves a system is all audited. And because [access is] role-based, if youre a systems administrator you can do this, the [chief technology officer] can do that, and the service person can do this. And its all encrypted. The security people love it when they see it. It takes them out of the old days of modems, VPNs and creating special routes that are hard to manage," he said.
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The J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition)-based ServiceLink 5 suite uses HTTPS with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption to transmit data across Internet connections between the data center and manufacturer. Authentication and authorization can be based on RADIUS, LDAP or Microsofts Active Directory. It also uses a patented technology to create a secure link between the external vendor and an internal endpoint within the customers network without requiring changes to the customers IT security policies.
A central management console allows administrators to change and enforce policies to enable control over access to all elements in the data center.
"It sits inside the data center and allows access to it from outside the data center via a Web page. It supports a one-time sign-on thats time-based, where the password times out [after a specified time period]," said Anderson.
It also includes built-in reporting and case management to track all activities carried out by vendor service personnel. To help in troubleshooting problems it can also be integrated via a software development kit into existing help desk systems as well as network and system monitoring tools.
All remote access sessions are monitored in real time and audit trails record those sessions. Reports include information on the user, device, application, time and activity. And service metrics reports provide data on equipment uptime overall performance, as well as number and duration of remote support cases.
Axeda ServiceLink 5 is available now.
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