Network managers can better secure and control access to their Web environments with an improved version of Novell Inc.’s security software.

Announced at the recent PC Expo show, Novell’s iChain 2.0 is a more scalable and flexible version of the company’s software that controls user access to Web applications and content. The latest version includes improved XML support, token-based authentication, installation and management wizards.

Software improvements include a feature called XML-based form fill that lets a network professional provide single sign-on capability to applications for all users, partners or customers visiting a company’s Web site.

Single sign-on lets a user store his or her user name and password once on a site and gain access to every application without re-entering the user name and password. Each subsequent time the user logs onto the network, authentication is automatically granted.

“We use iChain as the front door to our Internet Web for 750 insurance agents,” said Edward Cheadle, director of technical services for Beneficial Life in Salt Lake City. “It controls access to the Web resources. iChain allows us to authenticate agents and let them move among several Web servers without having to re-authenticate.” Cheadle uses NetWare and Windows NT as well as Oracle virtual private database.

iChain’s token-based authentication lets customers use authentication systems from vendors, such as ActivCard, RSA Security Inc. and Vasco NV. This capability is added to user name and password, smart card and certificate-based authentication methods already supported by iChain.

iChain supports virtually an unlimited number of iChain servers deployed in load-balanced situations and allows quicker authentication, letting users access Web applications faster. It squeaks out performance by letting net managers determine which pages require authentication. For instance, iChain can cache some pages and allow faster access or require certain levels of authentication to view other pages.

iChain competes with products from Netegrity Inc., Securant Technologies Inc., Oblix Inc. and IBM Corp. The software works with Novell’s Novell Directory Services eDirectory and can be integrated into Microsoft Corp. Active Directory networks via a DirXML driver. iChain runs on any Intel Pentium III or higher processor with 256MB to 4GB of RAM.

Novell iChain 2.0 will be available in the third quarter for US$10 per user; users with volume license agreements can get iChain for as little as US$6 per user.

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