About Access Management

AM provides a service called access management, which manages access to resources, such as a web page, an application, or a web service, that are available over the network. Once it is set up, AM provides an infrastructure for managing users, roles, and access to resources. In this chapter, you manage access to a single web page.

AM centralizes access control by handling both authentication and authorization. Authentication is the process of identifying an individual, for example, by confirming a successful login. Authorization is the process of granting access to resources to authenticated individuals.

AM centralizes authentication by using a variety of authentication modules that connect to identity repositories that store identities and provide authentication services. The identity repositories can be implemented as LDAP directories, relational databases, RADIUS, Windows authentication, one-time password services, and other standards-based access management systems.

Authentication trees provide fine-grained authentication by allowing multiple paths and decision points throughout the authentication flow. They are made up of authentication nodes, which define actions taken during authentication. Authentication nodes are more granular than modules, with each node performing a single task, such as collecting a username or making a simple decision. Authentication nodes can have multiple outcomes, rather than just success or failure. AM lets you create complex yet customer-friendly authentication experiences by linking nodes together, creating loops, and nesting nodes within a tree.

AM centralizes authorization by letting you use AM to manage access policies separate from applications and resources. Instead of building access policy into a web application, you install an agent with the web application to request policy decisions from AM. This way you can avoid issues that could arise when developers must embed policy decisions into their applications. With AM, if policy changes or an issue is found after the application is deployed, you have only to change the policy definition in AM, not deploy a new version of the application. AM makes the authorization decisions, and web and Java agents enforce the decisions on AM's behalf.

Keep on reading to try AM's access management capabilities by installing AM and configuring an authentication tree.

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