Creating a ToolBox for the Modern Software Factory

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If you’ve recently visited ca.com then you’re probably aware of CA Technologies' focus on the evolving needs of the enterprise as it builds the “Modern Software Factory”.  At CA World 2016, CEO Michael Gregoire used his to keynote to discuss companies that are built to change. Otto Berkes' keynote described what a Modern Software Factory is and why enterprises need to streamline innovation so that ideas can turn into new customer experiences quickly and efficiently.

He identified 5 key principles of a Modern Software Factory:

  1. Agility
  2. Experience
  3. Automation
  4. Security
  5. Insight

    It was a fresh perspective on the challenges our customers face and how to meet them. I recently found myself reflecting on how CoreBlox, a CA Focus Partner, is already aligned with the vision for the Modern Software Factory. Many IAM industry people know of our architecture and services delivery capabilities, but we are also a software company. Our CoreBlox Token Service allows CA Single Sign-On to securely exchange tokens with PingFederate, an increasingly common need within large organizations that have security solutions from multiple vendors. Our ToolBox for CA Single Sign-On automates and streamlines common CA SSO administrative tasks while increasing overall security and easing regulatory compliance. Developing, refining and supporting these products has given us a taste of what it's like to run our own Modern Software Factory. But how do they contribute to our clients' own ability to adapt to an ever changing market?

    Here is a breakdown of how ToolBox for CA Single Sign-On embodies the essence of the Modern Software Factory:

    • ToolBox allows you to be Agile in your daily security management practices. It enables you to easily promote SSO policies across environments and seamlessly onboard new applications.
    • ToolBox helps to drive ever evolving user Experiences. Companies that are releasing new applications and on boarding new users daily need to be able to control access by defining new policies and updating existing ones. ToolBox centralizes the management of these policies across environments so that the user experience is consistent and predictable.
    • ToolBox is the Automation engine for CA Single Sign-On. Its intuitive user interface makes most of your common administrative tasks as simple as pushing a button. ToolBox's template-based approach makes it easy to re-use configurations that have already been created. 
    • ToolBox was designed to bring Security to your CA Single Sign-On operations. With ToolBox, you'll be able to delegate administrative functions and precisely control user access across environments. Simplified policy testing allows you to eliminate errors that cause unintended vulnerabilities. With all of your environment changes audited, compliance requirements are easy to fulfill.
    • ToolBox delivers Insights into how your security policies are being configured and the subtle differences between your environments that could impact user experiences. Its optimization functions highlight subtle configuration tweaks that can improve performance and allow CA Single Sign-On to grow and change along with your business.

    CoreBlox is committed to building products and solutions for the Modern Software Factory while incorporating its key principles into our own day to day experiences as a software company. We're excited to be aligned with CA Technologies on this quest! 

    Unofficial CA Single Sign-On Guide, Chapter 2: The Installation Debugger

    (This is the second chapter in our new series, the Unofficial CA Single Sign-On Guide. You can find Chapter 1 here.)

    I’m sure you’ve seen it! Whether it was on one of those tacky motivation posters or during a 3 a.m. Tony Robbins infomercial… the concept of "trust". It is usually demonstrated by somebody blindly falling backwards and trusting their partner or team to catch them. It looks convincing when you see it on television, but if you are like me you start wondering how many takes it took to make it look that easy. I believe it is part of human nature to want to ‘Trust’ but in the end we usually go with ‘Trust, but verify!’. That verification piece is especially important when it comes to your SSO solution!

    If you have installed a CA security product in the past, you have no doubt seen one of the following conclusion messages: ‘Installation Successful’, ‘Installation Successful but with errors’ or ‘Installation Failed’.  Unfortunately, these messages are not always accurate. I have seen successful completions that were…. well…not successful. Other times it was successful with errors, but when you review the installation log there is little to no information in it.   So, what is one to do?

    This brings us to the installation debugger. It is not in the manual, and often when I am on-site with a client they have no idea this function even exists but Yes, Virginia: there is a debugger!

    Below are the methods for starting the debugger during Windows and Linux installations of CA Single Sign-On:

    Windows

    Running the debugger in Windows is very simple. Once you start the installer just hold down the [Ctrl] button during the initialization screen (see below) until you see a DOS box pop up in the background.  Once the DOS box has opened you can release the [Ctrl] button and continue with your install.   One important thing to note for Windows is that the DOS window will close once you have exited the installer so before you hit that final button to exit, be sure to select all the content of the DOS window and copy and paste to a text editor so that it can be saved for reference.   

    Initialization Screen - Hold down the [Ctrl] button until you see the screen below then release the control button.

    Initialization Screen - Hold down the [Ctrl] button until you see the screen below then release the control button.

    You know the debugger has started once you see this DOS window pop-up in the background.

    You know the debugger has started once you see this DOS window pop-up in the background.

     Linux

    Unlike Windows, running the debugger in Linux will automatically write the content to a log file. 

    Before running the installation script, enter the following command (note this command could vary slightly depending on the shell in use)

    export LAX_DEBUG=true

     Then start the installer script as you normally would.

    Running the debugger during the installation will not ‘fix’ a potential problem, but it may provide some specific information (or errors if you are lucky) to assist you with finding the source of the problem so that you can resolve it.

     

    Extend CA Single Sign-On with Axiomatics!

    Two decades in the Identity & Access Management space has exposed us to our fair share of “where did we go wrong?” scenarios - organizations that thought they were following best practices and ended up creating problems for themselves over time.  One especially problematic area has to do with role management and traditional RBAC (role-based access control). Often, organizations start off with the best intentions and establish just a few roles:

    • Admin
    • Employee
    • Customer
    • Partner

    The roles become more granular over time:

    Admin Employee Customer Partner
    SuperAdmin Employee - HR Customer - Platinum Support Partner - Support
    RegularAdmin Employee - IT Customer - Gold Support Partner - Implementation
    LightAdmin Employee - Sales Customer - Trial Partner - Temp
    AdminTemp Employee - Support Customer - Temp Partner - Marketing

    Before you know it, that “handful” of roles you started with has expanded into a tangled web, creating an administrative burden and taxing the systems whose rules rely upon them. CoreBlox has seen environments that have over 15,000 roles! In the IAM industry this is generally referred to as the dreaded “role proliferation” (cue Darth Vadar theme).

    Fortunately, there is a great alternative to RBAC. Our partner, Axiomatics, has pioneered the concept of Attribute-Based Access Control, also known as “ABAC”. The thought process behind ABAC is easy to understand: why create new data attributes to manage (e.g. Roles) when you can let the user data speak for itself?

    Organizations that already use CA Single Sign-On for web access control have a distinct advantage when it comes to implementing an ABAC approach. The Axiomatics Extension for CA Single Sign-On allows policy decisions to be made by Axiomatics’ ABAC-based engine. A simple yes/no response is returned to CA SSO based upon the user’s attributes. It just works, no coding necessary!

    Are you interested in exploring the benefits of ABAC for your organization? Download this new white paper: Making a Business Case for Attribute Based Access Control