Netegrity pushes into portals

Security software vendor Netegrity Inc. this week will unveil the first iteration of its own portal product, giving users a portal framework that is tightly integrated with its market-leading access control software.

The new offering is said to provide a full-featured portal deployment that is designed to work seamlessly with access control and authentication software that can be managed centrally across multiple portal installations.

Netegrity partners with portal vendors such as Plumtree Software Inc. and Epicentric Inc. to provide single sign-on capabilities, but Netegrity executives say customers are looking for deeper security integration than the partner relationships could provide. As a result, Netegrity acquired portal software vendor DataChannel in December.

Netegrity immediately began reselling DataChannel’s Java 2 Enterprise Edition-based portal server Version 5.0, rebranding it Netegrity Interaction Server 5.0. Interaction Server 5.1, to be released this week, provides out-of-the-box integration with Netegrity’s SiteMinder security software, offering deeper security than just single sign-on to the portal server, which is how SiteMinder typically works with partners.

“Customers told Netegrity, ‘No, I don’t want you to just be able to configure this one door security,'” says Carla Corkern, vice-president and general manager of the Interaction Server business unit. “They want one place to set up policies and one place that manages how users get information.”

SiteMinder interacts with existing user directories and databases, meaning there is no need to load user policies or passwords into a separate user store for the portal. In addition, SiteMinder enables centralized security management across Web servers so that security policies can be set for multiple portal deployments.

“So when you got to a portal, you just log on and SiteMinder takes care of figuring out where you’re authenticated and what your authorization is,” she says.

Db02, which creates portals for the construction industry, has been using DataChannel for its portal deployments since November. CEO Barry Nelson says he is looking forward to the deeper security integration that Interaction Server 5.1 will provide.

“Quite frankly, we underestimated the complexity and pain associated with security when we started this process,” Nelson says. “[Portals] have security to make sure people can or can’t get in, but then you need all the authentication associated with making sure that the right people can see the right content and the right application and it’s a complex task. You need somebody who specializes in that.”

Interaction Server 5.1 marks the first portal offering from a security vendor, analysts say, and underscores the changing role of portals in corporate environments. No longer windows to static content, portals are becoming the entryway into applications, resources and systems that employees, partners, suppliers and customers need to make businesses run.

“The portal is the one place that security has to happen,” says Larry Hawes, senior advisor at the Delphi Group Inc. “If you’re using the portal to aggregate information sources and back end transactional applications you want to make sure you’re regulating pretty tightly who can access those, especially when access is available not only to employees, but to partners, suppliers and customers.”

Hawes says it is unclear how Netegrity’s portal offering will impact the portal market since Netegrity will continue to partner with portal vendors. As for Netegrity, it may have an edge because it is entering the market with DataChannel’s strong portal framework, enhanced by deep security features, Hawes says.

Interaction Server 5.1 is priced on a per user basis and depends on the number of users and the type of application (business-to-business, business-to-enterprise, or business-to-consumer). Pricing ranges from about US$240 on the high end to less than US$10 per user on the low end. The price includes SiteMinder.