Single Sign On



I work for a medium-sized insurance company, developing web-based systems for
our independent agents. There are four primary applications we provide - one
that serves as an agent portal (ASP), and three others that serve
applications specific to each line of business (one ASP, two ASP.NET). Each
of these applications reside on their own server/environment, all of which
are in the same AD domain. We also have multiple top-level domains that
different sets of users visit to access the sites.

Currently, this is how we are tackling Single Sign On. The user logs in to
the portal site which is locked down via Basic authentication (okay, "locked
down" and "Basic authentication" in the same sentence...I know...I know).
Once authenticated, the portal site makes a call to an ASP.NET web service
that creates and returns a FormsAuthentication ticket for the user that
logged in. It then sets a persistent cookie containing that ticket. When
the user accesses one of the ASP apps on another server, we check for the
cookie and call in to the same web service to decrypt it and extract the user
- at that point, their session is built and they are logged in. When the
user accesses one of the ASP.NET apps, it is a bit easier. The machine keys
are all in sync, so enabling Forms Authentication allows the ASP.NET app to
recognize the cookie as a ticket, and the user is logged in. If a user
visits any of the LOB sites without going through the portal, they are
presented with that site's login page which essentially does the same thing
as the portal, except the cookie is not persistent.

Here is how I envision it working in a perfect world. The user logs in to
our portal site using their account which is stored in AD. When they visit
any of the other LOB apps, they do not have to provide credentials a second
time. True Single Sign-On. Granted, this is pretty much how it works today,
but I would prefer something more secure. Now my questions. Given our
mutli-server envrionment and the mix of ASP/ASP.NET, what other SSO options
do we have? I've read bits and pieces about Active Directory's ability to
provide an SSO experience, but I have been coming up short finding out how to
implement this when the bulk of our users are outside the corporate firewall.
Can anyone point me in the right direction? I am not opposed to third-party
solutions if they will meet our needs and are easy to implement/integrate. I
am interested in hearing others' experiences with this as well.

Thanks in advance!
Eric Matz

Dave Fancher

I work for a $9.7 bil. company (Truck manufacturer) that is using Tivoli
Access Manager (from IBM) for single sign on. I have recently inherited a
project (traditional ASP) that authenticates against TAM and am developing
another (ASP.NET) that will authenticate against it. Take a look at for more

I don't have much first-hand experience with it yet but the documentation I
have read makes it sound pretty straight-forward to implement and some other
developers I have spoken with seem to like it. TAM is being used heavily by
our dealer network and we are slowly migrating to it for our purchasing


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