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Larger User Communities

The sheer size of the user communities which can access business systems by way of the Internet not only increases the risk to those systems, but also constrains the solutions which can be deployed to address that risk. The Internet creates challenges in terms of scalability of security mechanisms, management of those mechanisms, and the need to make them standard and interoperable.


Security mechanisms for Internet-enabled systems must support much larger communities of users than systems which are not Internet-enabled. Whereas the largest traditional enterprise systems typically supported thousands of users, many Internet-enabled systems have millions of users.


Traditional mechanisms for identifying users and managing their access, such as granting each user an account and password on each system she accesses, may not be practical in an Internet environment. It rapidly becomes too difficult and expensive for system administrators to manage separate accounts for each user on every system.


Unlike traditional enterprise systems, where a company owns and controls all components of the system, Internet-enabled e-business systems must exchange data with systems owned and controlled by others: by customers, suppliers, partners, and so on. Security mechanisms deployed in e-business systems must therefore be standards-based, flexible, and interoperable, to ensure that they work with others’ systems. They must support thin clients, and work in multitier architectures.

Hosted Systems and Exchanges

The principal security challenge of hosting is keeping data from different hosted user communities separate. The simplest way of doing this is to create physically separate systems for each hosted community. The disadvantage of this approach is that it requires a separate computer, with separately installed, managed, and configured software, for each hosted user community. This provides little in the way of economies of scale to a hosting company.

Several factors can greatly reduce costs to hosting service providers. These factors include mechanisms which allow multiple user communities to share a single hardware and software instance; mechanisms which separate data for different user communities; and ways to provide a single administrative interface for the hosting provider.

Exchanges have requirements for both data separation and data sharing. For example, an exchange may ensure that a supplier’s bid remains unviewable by other suppliers, yet allow all bids to be evaluated by the entity requesting the bid. Furthermore, exchanges may also support communities of interest in which groups of organizations can share data selectively, or work together to provide such things as joint bids.