Vintela Authentication Services
Strengths: Clarity of purpose and execution.
Weaknesses: Little in context – this product is quite specific.
Verdict: A valuable tool for those with mixed OS environments and the headaches that this can bring for user authentication.
The Vintela Authentication Services enable a single log-on for organisations that have a mixture of Windows, Unix and Linux resources.
Maintaining user authentication across disparate platforms can be messy both for the administrator and the user, who might have to remember different user names and passwords before they get anywhere near an application. So the idea of providing a seamless, common logon to Windows, Unix and Linux systems will no doubt appeal to many.
The Vintela Authentication Services (VAS) use the Windows Active Directory as the focus for user authentication and integrating Unix and Linux logon requirements accordingly. In most cases, this means extending the Active Directory schema and there is a useful wizard for identifying existing schemas and, if necessary, extending a schema to suit.
The subsequent interaction between the Windows domain controller and Unix or Linux clients will effectively be the same as a Windows client. VAS supports a variety of Unix-related platforms, including Red Hat and Suse Linux, Solaris, AIX and HP-UX, enabling the integration of a wide range of resources, and interaction with NSS, PAM and AIX configuration files. Kerberos v5 is used throughout.
No doubt a switched on admin could achieve something similar via a series of scripts and password mapping, although this could become complex and difficult to maintain, especially within larger organisations. But the VAS approach seems an altogether neater solution, with all users authenticating against the Active Directory, regardless of which flavour of client they are using – particularly attractive for support personnel and other roving users who need to log on to a variety of platforms and applications.
Quest provides manuals in PDF format that are concise and clear, although a familiarity with the Active Directory and Unix/Linux is crucial. A well-documented SDK is also provided, together with example code for integrating with the VAS API, if you really want to get your hands dirty.
The Quest Vintela Authentication Services provide a valuable utility for the harmonisation and integration of Windows, Unix and Linux logons. In short, a single sign on for operating systems.