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Server Requirements

Multiple, Load-Balanced Servers

Hitachi ID Access Certifier supports multiple, load-balanced servers.

Each server can host multiple Access Certifier instances, each with its own users, target systems, features and policies.

Access Certifier instances can and normally do span multiple servers. Every server hosting a given instance is functionally identical. User traffic is load balanced between servers supporting the instance. Load balancing may be accomplished using DNS (round-robin is built into most DNS servers) or at the IP level with a device from Cisco, F5, etc.

High availability is accomplished by combining load balancing with server health monitoring and automatic fail-out. Access Certifier includes server monitoring tools that can be configured on each server to monitor its peers and when a failure is detected to trigger an alarm (e.g., by e-mail) and to automatically update DDNS records to remove the failed server from circulation. Hitachi ID Systems also provides these tools for Unix/BIND with traditional DNS.

There is no coded limit to the number of concurrent, replicated servers. With more than 10 servers, replication may become slow. Since the three largest customers of Hitachi ID Systems run with just two production servers each, this is only a theoretical problem.

Server Platform

Access Certifier must be installed on a Windows 2012 or Windows 2012/R2 server.

Installing on a Windows server allows Access Certifier to leverage client software for most types of target systems, which is available only on the "Wintel" platform. In turn, this makes it possible for Access Certifier to manage passwords and accounts on target systems without installing a server-side agent.

Each Access Certifier application server requires a web server. IIS is used as it comes with the Windows 2012 Server OS.

Access Certifier is a security application and should be locked down accordingly. Please refer to the Hitachi ID Systems document about hardening Access Certifier servers to learn how to do this. In short, most of the native Windows services can and should be removed, leaving a very small attack surface, with exactly one inbound TCP/IP port (443):

  1. No ASP, JSP or PHP are used, so such engines should be disabled.
  2. .NET is not required on the web portal and in most cases can be disabled on IIS.
  3. No ODBC or DCOM are required inbound, so these services should be filtered or disabled.
  4. File sharing (inbound, outbound) should be disabled.
  5. Remote registry services should be disabled.
  6. Inbound TCP/IP connections should be firewalled, allowing only port 443 and possibly remote desktop services (often required for some configuration tasks), plus a handful of port numbers between Access Certifier servers, for replication.

Each Access Certifier server requires a database instance. Microsoft SQL 2012 is the recommended choice, Microsoft SQL 2014 will be officially supported in 2016. Oracle database is supported on versions up to 9.0.x and is not supported on 10.0 or later releases.

Application Server Hardware and Operating System

Production Access Certifier application servers are normally configured as follows:

  • Hardware requirements or equivalent VM capacity:
    • An Intel Xeon or similar CPU. Multi-core CPUs are supported and leveraged.
    • At least 8GB RAM -- 16GB or more is typical for a server.
    • At least 500GB disk, preferably configured as RAID for reliability and preferably larger for retention of more historical and log data. More disk is always better, to increase log retention.
    • At least one Gigabit Ethernet NIC.

  • Operating system:
    • Windows 2012R2 Server Standard Edition, with current service packs.
    • The server should not normally be a domain controller and in most deployments is not a domain member.

  • Installed and tested software on the server:
    • TCP/IP networking, with a static IP address and DNS name.
    • IIS web server with an SSL certificate.
    • At least one web browser and PDF viewer.

  • A Microsoft SQL Server 2012 instance is required to host the Access Certifier schema:
    • Normally one database instance per application server.
    • The SQL Server database software can be deployed on the same server as the Access Certifier application, as this reduces hardware cost and allows application administrators full DBA access for troubleshooting and performance tuning purposes.
    • The SQL Server database software can be deployed on the same server
    • SQL Server 2012 Standard is recommended in almost all cases -- SQL Express is acceptable for small deployments and evaluations.

Database Configuration

As mentioned before, Access Certifier requires SQL Server, typically with one database instance per application server. In most environments, the Microsoft SQL Server software is installed on the same hardware or VM as the Access Certifier software, on each Access Certifier server node. This reduces hardware cost, eliminates network latency and reduces the security surface of the combined solution.

Be sure to install the following components that come with Microsoft SQL Server 2012:

  1. Database Engine Services
  2. Client Tools Connectivity
  3. Management Tools - Basic
  4. Management Tools - Complete

Database I/O performance on a virtualized filesystem (e.g., VMDK or equivalent) is slow. If the database server software runs on a VM, please use a fast, nearby NAS or SAN to store the actual data files.

Access Certifier can leverage an existing database server cluster, but Hitachi ID Systems recommends a dedicated database server instance:

  1. The data managed by Access Certifier is extremely sensitive, so it is desirable to minimize the number of DBAs who can access it (despite use of encryption).
  2. MSSQL has limited features to isolate workloads between database instances on the same server. This means that a burst of activity from Access Certifier (as happens during auto-discovery) would cause slow responses in other applications. Conversely, other applications experiencing high DB load would slow down Access Certifier.
  3. Access Certifier already includes real-time, fault-tolerant, WAN-friendly, encrypted database replication between application nodes, each with its own back-end database. Use of an expensive DB server cluster is neither required nor beneficial.

The Access Certifier replicating data service can be configured to use the following SQL database engines as its physical data store:

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012, Standard Edition.
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012, Express Edition, with Advanced Services (free download from http://microsoft.com/) -- suitable for development, test and smaller production environments.

Read More:

  • Architecture:
    Hitachi ID Suite network architecture.
  • Included Connectors:
    Systems on which Access Certifier can audit and reduce privileges.
  • Auto-Discovery System:
    How the Hitachi ID Access Certifier automatically discovers new, deleted and changed users and privileges on integrated systems and applications.
  • Other Integrations:
    Integrations between Hitachi ID Suite and other parts of an IT infrastructure.
  • Workflow:
    Workflow to prompt stakeholders to perform micro-audits, and to authorize access reductions.
  • RBAC:
    Relating Access Certification to role based access control.
  • Server Requirements:
    Sizing, configuration and number of servers on which to deploy Access Certifier
  • Language Support:
    Languages Supported by the Hitachi ID Identity and Access Management Suite
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